He has many names!
My name is Silvano Rigmar Haynes, my friends also know me as ‘Vano’
My little secret is that I use different (yet still my own) names to keep people guessing. I’m an 80’s baby and was born on the Caribbean island called Curaçao.
Since a young age I’ve always been very curious about my surroundings and what makes people do things differently than myself.
My best-friend partially rubbed a lot of his ‘’why’’ attitude unto me.
Which led me to ask questions like:
‘’Am I really less intelligent than others who had a higher school diploma?’’ ’’Am I aiming high in life’’? ‘’Do I got any talents?’’
It was this attitude that created the basis of who I am today.
You also go under the alias OMOWALE ASANTE, what does this name mean?
Malcolm X became a great hero to me around my early twenties’.
During his tour in Africa, Nigeria to be precise. They gave him a Yoruba name: Omowale. Meaning the (lost) child has returned home. Let’s say the name sank into my sub-conscious. And I basically fell in love with the Yoruba people shortly after that.
Then came the Asante who I also felt some connection to.
In late 2016 I put those two names together to recreate my Africanity
Later I came to found out that Asante means because of war.
So, ‘the lost child has returned home because of war’ was born. And with such heavy meaning, I just had to ‘’own’’ this name.
So at what point in your life did you grow with passion for African history?
Well that started around my 17th birthday when a cousin of mine told me:
‘’There are a strange group of people in Rotterdam that almost speak our language’’.
He was referring to the Cabo Verdeans which led me unto the beautiful but enormous rabbit hole of the history of my ancestors. And that’s how I created the brand Atunwa in 2016
The definition of ‘Atunwa’ in Yoruba theology translates to reincarnation in your direct family-line. The philosophy of my brand is: teaching African history and Black empowerment through fashion. Pan-African consciousness meets gritty urban Black culture.
Your brand ‘Atunwa’ promotes African culture, what is your mission and vision with this brand?
My mission is not only to promote African (diasporic) culture but to shake people into taking action. Every order comes with an infographic to show what we can do as one and why it’s important to OWN everything around you. Let me put it another way: making people aware of how dope African history/culture and it’s people are and start building with the correct mindset.
My vision, without the fluffy
T-shirts, Hoodies, flipflops, sneakers. Our invasion won’t be televised.
Why should we buy from Atunwa and not from other African designers in the Diaspora?
To semi-quote an article on our spiritual predecessor:
‘’created to specifically target young Black/African consumers.’ Their clothing was as a response to high-profile fashion brands expressing they didn’t want to market their collections to particular groups of people.’’Unknown
I won’t mention their name but to add to that, I’ll say that we aren’t looking to fuse ideas, gaining a particular strand of mainstream attention or selling Black culture to other cultures while being detrimental to our own. Atunwa didn’t come into existence in a reactive manner. She was born to fill a void of a new cultural revival.
To how many African countries have you been and which one of them stuck the most?
Sadly enough just Egypt. To be precise the upper Nile region. The city
called Aswan is pretty much where you can still feel the ancient African
So yeah… pretty cool place and people.
What have you learned from Africa?
That we all share a common cultural source. We are just different branches/expressions of the same tree. It just happens that people aren’t very aware of that. Two things I love the most is how organized we used to be in all aspects of life and the central role of African women.
How does a continent like Africa affect you personally in your daily life?
The most simple answer I can give is: showing me that everything happening
What is the best way for melanin people to find their (unknown) African roots?
And if you want to know what DNA-markers are the most dominant within you. Use the company called AfricanAncestry.com
Do you believe in DNA tests like MYHERITAGE to find out where someone’s roots are set up?
Please check the infographics made by AfricanAncestry. Those other companies…
BoB’s for life is the path to greatness.Silvano
Michael Cary aka MiJaCa the Talented DancingExtraOrdinair
Who is Mijaca?
My name is Michael Cary also known as Mijaca in the dancescène.
I’m a person who really tries to put my whole heart and soul into dance. I do that because it is one of my biggest passions. ( also known as my life ?). My other passion are spending time with family, Friends, life partners a.k.a my squad. We all have our own individual passions and the same passion which is dance. We also share many same goals. If you look at my life partners in my crew it will really reflect who I am as a person.
My sister and I were raised by my grandmother(she is American btw). Also do I have 3 brothers. I am 21 years old by the way.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Zwijndrecht which is close to Rotterdam city in the Netherlands. I lived there till the 3rd grade in elementary school. After that I moved to Vleuten and finished elementary school there.
Not too long after that I relocated back to Zwijndrecht and finished highschool in Dordrecht. Also did I graduate from the dance school in Utrecht Overvecht called “Creative college” it is an street style school where you learn a lot of stuff about the whole hiphop dance-scene.
So your greatest passion is dance?
That is correct and my fam “the squad” as well ofcourse.
Because i do literally everything with dance. I think in dance; I move with dance and I cannot imagine that i will ever completely stop dancing.
This also goes for the fam. I can’t imagine the fam stopping any time soon.
Dancing is also a way of dealing with my personal stuff. It brings me joy and I love being joyful with other people. I travel more due to dance as well. My whole life is influenced by music and dance.
What other passions do you have?
I love doing so much stuff it is hard to name them all. I am interested in a lot of things. Doing photo-shoots is one of these things.
I really like doing them and it would be so funny to see these pictures when I am older and look back at them.
Sherrie Silver is the 23-year-old who choreographed Childish Gambino’s This is America
Iso den Boer grabs cups with toes and speaks Japanese? Read about this Melanin Wonder!
Who is Iso?
My name is Ismaël den Boer, but most people call me Iso, I was born in Rotterdam on 24 June 1990 and this is my story.. *cue sentimental music.*
I am my parents only child, my father was born in Suriname and came to Rotterdam when he was six years old, my mother was adopted into a Dutch family and was also raised in the city of Rotterdam.
After 20 years of living their lives they found each other and made the decision to create new life hence I was born.
My parents separated when I was 5 years old. This made me be alone a lot while my mother was out working.
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you”
This taught me to be independent at a young age. I used to climb the counter to reach the microwave to heat up my dinner. I put myself to bed and left for school while my mother would return from work in the morning.
Throughout my younger years we kind of lived a nomad lifestyle. We were moving from place to place and living in different countries. This allowed me to meet a lot of different people and have friends that I am still in contact with today.
Can you tell us a little bit more of how you grew up?
I was a quiet introverted kid (a character trait from my dad) with a lot of humor (a character trait from my mom).
Even though my mother an I went through tough times. From having no place to sleep, to my dad suddenly passing away when he was 34. Even when my mom got sick and passed away at 43, our humor remained the same. It kept us going. As a character in a famous Dutch kid show always used to say: “No matter what happens, always keep smiling’’ is something we lived by and I still do.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you” . It was the Golden rule that my mother always used to repeat to me when I was little.
I used to find it super annoying, because she would say this every time I got caught doing something bad. As I got older I started understanding it more and actually started living by it.
I am sure I will annoy my own children with the same quote on day.
What is your favorite movie and why?
Lion King is my favorite movie (and musical), because It had a impact on me when I was young.
As weird as it sounds I always sympathized with Scar because he got bullied, rejected and was unwanted. Even though killing Mufasa was a d*ck move (and I always skipped it.), he might not be innately evil. This was a big eye opener for me as a kid.
The African feel of the musical I enjoy because of the nostalgia. Seeing Simba going away and then returning to his place of origin is something I can relate to.
You are known as the MEME master. Your memes are very artistic how do you come up with them?
I am a person that likes comedy and I love making people laugh. Creating funny images stems from that. I picture a funny situation and with the magic of Photoshop I can make these funny or interesting images.
Have u ever been insecure about yourself?
I have been insecure in the past about physical traits like my big ears or my awful clothes. We did not have a lot of money so my mom got me clothes I could grow into..
I had jeans that where rolled op 6 fold, jackets win which the sleeves would have been rolled up 6 times and to top that of my mom gave me sandals. This made me look like a miniature Moses.. it sounds funny but during that time I would have rather wanted the sneakers with air that we all believed would give you the ability to jump higher like the rest of the kids.
Becoming the best version of myself
I have also have been insecure about life. I grew up religious, but growing up and feeling that we were created just because by some higher power wanted to be worshipped was not a meaningful life in my eyes.
Also knowing that life came to be with essentially no real purpose was depressing to me and felt meaningless. I got over this ‘eventually’ by seeing the beauty in the complexity of life and the different people in it. I want to see everything there is to see. Experience all the things that this life offers me. Life itself may not have a purpose. But we are still able to live a purposeful life.
Even though killing Mufasa was a d*ck move
Do you have other hobbies or crazy habits?
My hobbies are playing videogames on the ps4, fitness and MMA.
A crazy habit of mine is that I am curious. I can go on the internet to find information about a topic, what leads me to another topic and another.. and before I know it I’m learning Nordic languages at 4:00 AM in the morning and reading about the Annunaki..
What are some of the most important things in your life?
Becoming the best version of myself; meaning to keep on learning and experiencing new things and training this vessel that carries me around.
Every night before bed I ask myself “what did I do today to improve myself?” it can be just learning one new word that day. Even that is an improvement.
Freedom is also something that I find important; freedom to explore the world, meet different people, experiencing different cultures and use that to grow.
In the long term I would like to pass on this wisdom (makes me sound like a 300 year old wizard), to my children and leave the world a little better then when I entered it.
What does Melanin mean to you?
Melanin is what determines your skin- , hair and eye color. It protects you from UV radiation from sun we all share. Because of this the word ‘melanin’ gives me a sense of solidarity with the rest of my fellow homo sapiens. Even though people have variable amounts of melanin it is something we all have in common. No matter where you are from, we all have melanin.
At the same time it does give a sense of ethnicity and can be linked to where your closest roots are.
I am a ‘mixed’ black male. So part of my roots are in Africa ( 48,3% Yoruba, 5,1% east Africa), Europe( 43,5%) and Asia( 8,1%). This gives me sense of identity and pride to know and learn more about the language, culture and society of people that are the closest to me on not just a genetic level, but also in appearance.
Do you think a Melanin Wonder Platform is necessary?
I believe it can have a positive impact. Throughout history we have been indoctrinated to think less of people with more melanin.
A big part of this is colonization, slavery, the notion that races can be ranked from inferior to superior.
Even though much of this is in the ‘not-so-distant’ past, there are still lasting affects through later generations. You can see this in black people that bleach their skin to look lighter and studies that have shown that it even reaches children from a very young age to have a negative bias towards darker skin. We are still living in a society where dark things are devalued and white things are valued.
Seeing positive images of black people like in the recent movie Black Panther and platforms like Melanin Wonder that celebrates the melanin shows that people can be proud of their color. Seeing people of color achieve things like becoming a model, a movie star, a doctor, the president of a country etc will show them that they can achieve what they want and that their color is beautiful even thought maybe their present environment may tell them otherwise.
We heard you speak fluent Japanese, how come?
I started to learn Japanese because I was bored at school. After getting my marketing degree I thought why not build upon that! so I started International business Asia with a focus on Japan. Fast-forward a few years and I’m studying business and Japanese in a private university (Sophia University) in Tokyo.
This was where I picked up and learned most of my Japanese.
Studying, working and living in Japan improved my Japanese. It even made me forget Dutch words.
Now that I am back I actually have the opposite. I tend to forget some Japanese.
Throughout history we have been indoctrinated to think less of people with more melanin.
What person do you look up to in this world?
I don’t really have a role model per se. But I pick specific talents or traits of people that I admire and aspire to have. I do this because a role-model can make a wrong decision or fail. Separating the person from the traits that you admire make their bad lifestyle decisions less important.
A short list of people that have skills that I admire are:
Lious Farrakhan – Besides to trying to teach black people about economic independence. This man’s ability to debate, stay calm in a hostile environments and still keep a smile on his face is admirable.
Neil degrasse Tyson – I am a big fan of science especially astronomy. I find it fascinating and humbling to see how much is out there. Neil is a black astrophysicist who explains astronomy and the research behind it to the public.
His way of explaining complicated subjects into easily understandable language in an exciting way is something I admire too.
Elon Musk – This South African entrepreneur/inventor is the CEO of billion dollar companies like Tesla and SpaceX. As mentioned before I love astronomy, so a company with the goal to colonization Mars and functions as a private space transport business is something that really sparks my interest.
To pursue such an ‘out of the box ‘ ideas shows willingness to pursue your passion and a high risk tolerance. These are some traits I love about him.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
I have a really strong grip with my toes and can use it to pick things up like a cup of tea.
“I sound super serious throughout this interview, but I promise I also have a funny side! So check out my comedy channel
‘@Iso5314’ (end of shameless plug)”