This Moroccan designer launched a mentorship program to support young African creatives

Moroccan-Norweigan designer Anwar Bougroug launched his eponymous unisex label in 2016. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 May 2020

This Moroccan designer launched a mentorship program to support young African creatives

DUBAI: Moroccan-Norweigan designer Anwar Bougroug launched his eponymous unisex label a little over four years ago with a focus on traditional Moroccan handcraft. His creations went on to capture the attention of prestigious publications, securing him a spot on Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 class of 2020. 

Today, the designer is launching a new initiative called Bougroug Youth Mentorship Program, which will help move the African fashion industry further into the future by nurturing emerging labels from the continent amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

“I was hearing from a lot of young creatives that they were really struggling to keep their motivation up and make ends meet,” shared Bougroug with Arab News of his decision to launch the program. 

The mentorship program is open to the African diaspora from all parts of the world. (Supplied)

“Since I launched my own fashion brand, many young people in Morocco reached out to me and told me they wanted to do the same,” explained Bougroug.  “So I saw an opportunity to help these people reach their dreams,” he added.

Initially, the program was exclusive to Morocco’s creative community, however, within hours, the designer began receiving applications from designers, photographers, stylists and models from countries scattered across Africa, including Sudan, South-Africa, Ghana and Botswana.

“I decided to open the program for everyone that could really benefit from it, no matter where they are located in the world,” he explained. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social-distancing measures in place, the mentorship scheme will kick off with gatherings on social chatting application Zoom where Bougroug will offer guidance on opportunities, help them refine their ideas and projects and provide uplifting career advice.

Bougroug aims to introduce 25 young African creatives to careers in the fashion industry. (Supplied)

Afterwards, the designer aims to meet with young designers based in Morocco face-to-face and travel to any of the countries where the participants live if and whenever travel restrictions are lifted. 

With the new program, Bougroug aims to introduce 25 young African creatives to careers in the fashion industry and give them the tools to succeed in the industry. 

“Africa has so much potential to further develop its fashion industry,” notes Bougroug. “People in Africa are extremely skilled and creative. What is missing is the voice that tells people to go after their dreams. By giving young people a chance, they will develop their skill sets and the industry will start to take shape and we will eventually have a healthy industry and ecosystem similar to the ones we see for instance in Europe,” he says. 

Those who wish to apply can send an email to [email protected].

‘Hamilton’ makes a successful transition to the big screen

Updated 04 July 2020

‘Hamilton’ makes a successful transition to the big screen

CHENNAI: Cinema sometimes looks to go back to its roots. Some years ago, European auteurs like Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and others introduced “Dogme 95” as a new form of moviemaking, which meant using no props, no artificial lighting and no makeup. It did not last long. However, Thomas Kail’s “Hamilton” — released to coincide with the Fourth of July and streaming on Disney Plus — is another experiment that reminded me of the very early days of motion pictures when some directors in India captured a stage play with a static camera and then screened it in remote regions, where it was not feasible to cart the entire cast.

Kail used six cameras to shoot what was originally a theatrical production. Over two nights in 2016, he filmed the play with most of the actors, including Tony Award winners, who were in the stage version. Every attempt has been made to make it look cinematic, with impeccable camerawork and editing. There is a bonus here. The movie enables you to be a front-bencher at Richard Rogers’ stage production. This closeness that allows you to see clearly the expressions of the actors establishes an intimacy between the audience and the cast.

Inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton, the 160-minute show makes a fabulous musical. The release of the film with its intentionally diverse cast comes at a critical time when race relations in the USA have hit the rock bottom. When Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr) sings that he wants to be in “the room where it happens”, the lyrics are sung by a black man.

Alexander Hamilton (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, also the creator of the piece) is the least well known of the American founding fathers. An immigrant and orphan, he was George Washington’s right-hand man. Credited as being responsible for setting up the country’s banking system, Hamilton was killed in a duel by Burr.

The musical is inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton. Courtesy of Disney

The story is narrated through hip-hop beats. Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs) sings his speech to Congression, and the debates he has with Alexander Hamilton are verbalized through lyrics. Hamilton also has a lot to say about America’s immigrant past. In one scene French aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette tells Alexander, “Immigrants, we get the job done!”

Performances are top notch. Miranda is superb, and evokes an immediate connection between the film and the viewer. King George III is brilliantly portrayed by Jonathan Groff, and Hamilton’s wife, Eliza (Philippa Soo), is an endearing presence who has a calming effect on her often ruffled and troubled husband.

“Hamilton” is a great, if subjective, account of early American political history for those not familiar with that period. It must be said, however, the musical makes a long movie, which might be a trifle tiring for those not used to this format.