Karama Umuntu's Florence Abwoyo
Florence Abwoyo.

Karama Umuntu's Florence Abwoyo

UK-based Florence Abwoyo is launching lifestyle magazine - Karama Umuntu.

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
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First published: July 25, 2007

She is a woman with purpose and unlimited drive working in the fashion and beauty industry. Uganda-born, UK-based Florence Abwoyo is rapidly becoming an accomplished designer in the clothing industry. Drawing her inspiration from her Ugandan roots and African lifestyle as well as from her extensive travels throughout Africa and Europe, she is launching an African chic fashion and lifestyle magazine - Karama Umuntu in the UK. The magazine is celebrating its launch this Friday on July 27th, for which the editorial team will organize a spectacular party in London at The Dorchester. The cover girl is international model Frieda Shapopi from Namibia and Uganda's Mirembe Campbell is featured too. Kenya's musician Redsan will be performing. The magazine is already drawing a lot of wows.

Launch of Karama Umuntu- 27th July 2007
Launch of Karama Umuntu- 27th July 2007.
Copyright Karama Umuntu

Florence Abwoyo was born in Gulu District, Uganda. While in Uganda, she resided in many Ugandan districts including Gulu, Kamplala, Masindi, Mukono, Jinja and Kamuli. She also visited Mbale. She went to primary school in Jinja and made the move to the UK while still a child. She went to school there and obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of London. She also attended a beauty school and is a qualified hairdresser and make-up artist.

As a young girl, she had always been interested in fashion and beauty. Abwoyo's break into fashion happened when she opened a beauty salon four years ago, and through that she was able to meet people from different African countries. She the realized, it was possible to make her dream of uniting Africa under the umbrella of beauty. With the launch of her magazine, the sky is the limit. Karama Umuntu Magazine has already been dubbed by some as the Pride of Africa. This magazine, the first of its kind, promises to bring Africa to the forefront. It will show Africa's beauty and its beautiful people.

Jane: What does Karama Umuntu mean?

Florence: The word Karama in Swahili means a gracious gift from God. In Arabic, Karama means an honor or dignity. The word Karama in the Luo language of the Acholi tribe in the northern Uganda, means celebration, a great coming together of a clan, family or group of people to celebrate, an important occasion, for example, Christmas.

Ubuntu is a sub-Saharan African ideology focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origins in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa. Ubuntu is seen as a traditional African concept. Ubuntu is used to emphasize the need for unity. The Zulu maxim Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu means a person is a person through other people. The Ubuntu philosophy is therefore important because it provides Africans with a sense of self-identity, self-respect, and achievement. Umuntu is the creator of his or her world, which constantly changes during his /her existence. Umuntu is the creator of politics, law religion, etc. Through these creative activities, umuntu gains experience, knowledge and a philosophy of life based on truth. An African philosophy of life that guides the thinking and actions of Africans must therefore be found in the historical experiences and not from philosophical abstractions that have very little meaning to life.

How did you come up with the title?

The title has a deep-rooted meaning and at the same time a personal one as I happen to speak both the Bantu and Nilotic languages of Africa. My main aim was to frame a new direction for Africans in Diaspora, chart the way forward for the continent of Africa in the face of ever changing times and redefine a collective purpose.

Karama Umuntu, the brand, is a collective effort by young Africans living in the Diaspora who strive to portray African cultural heritage through hair, beauty, fashion and music.  

Florence Abwoyo
Florence Abwoyo.

What inspired you to found it?

The richness of African culture and lack of positive media exposure of Africa in general did that. As a British African, I felt it was my responsibility to portray Africa in a positive light through the eyes of an African.

What was the inspiration behind the whole concept?

Karama Umuntu African Hair Show was the first of its kind to be launched on English soil. The show's main emphasis is to highlight African hair and beauty from the traditional to the modern styles, very much in demand today. I felt the need to celebrate Africa as Africa is unique because of its varied and picturesque landscapes, a mix of rich and diverse cultural values and traditions that cut across the continent. Most often, because of the rather biased focus of sensational media typical of the western world, there is too much hype about the miseries of the continent (civil wars, hunger, starvation, malnutrition, lack of good governance and accountability, poor health infrastructure, etc) to the point that those who do not know the continent are blinded about the more positive values of Africa. 

Karama Umuntu African hair show 2006 was successful and in recognition of your efforts, you received an award from the Portuguese Community in the United Kingdom. How did you feel about that?

I was very honoured to receive an award after the inaugural show and as a result, I have received calls and e-mails from people all over the world indicating interest in being part of this year's show. The show served as a platform for celebrating African beauty and a forum for networking amongst young African ladies interested in making it in the beauty industry.

When is the launch of Karama Umuntu magazine?

The launch is on 07/27/2007 at the Dorchester Hotel, Mayfair, Park Lane. It will be published quarterly and the first edition will be distributed on print throughout the UK. However, all over the world readers can subscribe and download the online version from www.karamaumuntu.com

First issue of Karama Umuntu
First issue of Karama Umuntu.
Copyright Karama Umuntu

What is the launch party going to be like?

On that night, expect to mingle with the coolest African celebrities and the best-dressed partygoers in the UK! You can be sure this party will be remembered as the party of the year in our community as all the movers and shakers of the fashion industry will be there.

What can readers expect from Karama Umuntu Magazine?

World-class beauty in one magazine, hence our slogan 'Beauty was born in Africa', achievement, tourism and aspirations. In addition, technological advancement has made the world a global village and for this reason, it is about time the positive image of the African continent was given the limelight. If you cannot go to Africa, Africa can come to you in the UK and the rest of the world. The magazine will feature Africans doing their best for their motherland.

How can people who want to be involved with the magazine get involved?

Please contact us through our website at www.karamaumuntu.com. As this is a project by Africans for Africans, we welcome all Africans with different experiences to the project. Our aim is to connect the whole continent.

What about the hair fashion show? What is the main aim of the hair show?

The main aim is:

  • For young Africans to learn & appreciate their African & tribal heritage
  • To celebrate the beauty of Africa
  • To showcase & teach the world about cultural heritage through hair & beauty
  • To encourage young Africans in the UK and around the world to network with no political or religious intentions, hence promotes positive integration.

What is your passion?

My passion is to bring peace, love and unity to the world through fashion, hair beauty and culture. 

What was that one thing that you were brought here on earth to do?

To live my life in manner that inspires people.

Are there any negative stereotypes you have had to deal with along the way?

I am happy to say that African communities and the rest of the world have received the project with great pride and I express sincere gratitude for their appreciation of my idea.

What do you think of the representation of black women's beauty in the media? Is there a fair representation?

No, I believe there is no adequate media exposure for the black woman's beauty even though there are a lot of beautiful black aspiring models, actresses, writers and entertainers. The main aim of Karama Umuntu is to redress this balance. 

Can you take us through a typical day of your life?

There is no typical day in my life, as the project requires a lot of my personal attention. However, a normal day in my life will consist of answering loads of phone calls on my mobile, the landline and skype. I also correspond with many business clients via email but still find time to attend various business meetings.

Did you have any positive mentors along the way?

Yes, I am working with a great team of people. All my team members; models and people who are involved in the project are my mentors. 

What has been your greatest success story?

Florence Abwoyo
Florence Abwoyo.

People embracing my idea and the brand Karama Umuntu. For example, I received a phone call from a Czech Republic radio station. They had read about the project on the internet. It was mind blowing for them to have embraced my idea and broadcast it on their national radio station. At first I did not believe it. I requested them to send me an email confirming that it was not a prank call. A transcript of the interview will soon be available on www.karamaumuntu.com

I also received a lot of emails from Ugandans both in Uganda and around the world, all embracing my idea. It gave me a wonderful feeling and I would like to thank everybody who sent me messages after the article was published in a Ugandan newspaper (Daily Monitor) on 8/07/07.

If you were to have dinner with only five people, who would they be?

My mother, because she has made me who I am now. If only she could come back to life again! She gave me all the love and attention that I needed to grow into a responsible person. Nelson Mandela, for his courage and conviction to have stood up for what he believed in at the time. Oprah Winfrey, for her inspirational work on TV. George Clooney, not only for his handsome looks, but also for his work in Sudan. Bill Gates for inventing technology that allows me to easily connect with the rest of the world and my people.

Do you have any words of advice to any young people who may want to follow your path?

Follow your dreams through and it may lead to self-satisfaction, as I am doing the same.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

Florence Abwoyo the Ugandan born, British woman who united Africans through positive messages and held the first African hair and beauty show on English soil.

Finally, you are a young and dynamic African lady who seems focused and hard working. What is your message to young Africans out there who are striving to make a success of their careers?

I believe everyone should have a dream and strive for the best in life. As for my success, I owe it to the dedicated team at Karama Umuntu. Karama Umuntu will be available to buy at various newsagents in the UK from 07/27/2007.

For more information on Florence Abwoyo and Karamu Umuntu visit:


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By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
more from author >>
First published: July 25, 2007
Jane Musoke-Nteyafas, poet/author/artist and playwright, was born in Moscow, Russia and currently resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the daughter of retired diplomats. By the time she was 19, she spoke French, English, Spanish, Danish, Luganda, some Russian and had lived in Russia, Uganda, France, Denmark, Cuba and Canada.

Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.