They’re Slick, They’re Black, They’re Warriors!

Many people have been asking us at MenStylePower what our USP is and we’ve bandied around different ideas but time and time again, we return to the one premise: MenStylePower is all about encouraging men to be their best – both inside and out.

We’re not GQ Mag, neither are we AskMen.com, although we take our hats off to our brothers there.

We’re humbly different, in that we try and offer a deeper, richer observation what makes men tick but then even more so, what truly influences and motivates them to arise into their very finest as males; at peace and content with themselves, generous and giving towards others, stylish and unique in their external image and filled with love, courage and integrity and a sense of justice towards themselves, their families, their purpose and their communities.

And when it comes to men of purpose, we’re excited when we hear of dudes living out their calling while making a major impact on communities and audiences around the globe. And especially men of colour.

Why choose black men for this post? Well, it’s not a well kept secret that the MSP crew is a multicultural outfit (white, black, blue, yellow, the lot!) so we want to celebrate what men of colour are achieving across the globe and as well, we’re committed to encouraging black men, sometimes not portrayed in the best light by popular media, to be the strong warriors they were designed as.

In our rounds, we’ve stumbled across some great gems and can’t wait to share with you their inspirational stories and their commitment to making the world a better place.

Be encouraged dudes!

Evans Wadongo – the 23-year-old Jedi Warrior (well, not really … but close …)

Evans Wadongo is Kenya’s light warrior, not in a saber wielding kinda way but via his invention – a solar-powered LED lantern that helps illuminate rural homes.

If you’re living comfortably in the West, you’re probably wondering why all the hoo-ha around a lantern. Evans’ story may give you a clue as to how revolutionary his invention is:

Wadongo grew up in a home that stressed the importance of education but years of exposure to smoke while studying by kerosene and firelight left Wadongo with eyesight problems like it did most people living in rural Africa with little or no access to electricity.

With a lack of good light to study by Wadongo was frustrated with his unfinished homework and poor exam performance. “I couldn’t compete effectively with other kids who had access to lighting. In every home in the village it was the same. Many children drop out of school for these reasons … so they remain poor for the rest of their life. All along I was asking myself if there is anything that can be done to improve this situation.”

In 2004, while attending a Kenyan university for agriculture and technology, Wadongo found his answer. He discovered LED lights during a dorm experiment then later stumbled on the idea of a solar panel small enough for individual homes. “I immediately knew the impact that [it] would have on the rural communities,” he said.

An artisan helped him design the solar lantern, which Wadongo calls MwangaBora — Swahili for ‘good light’. Since then, Wadongo estimates he’s distributed 10,000 lanterns, the cost of each covered by donations. Volunteers help build the lanterns and work with local government and women’s groups to determine the communities most in need. As well, a small percentage of the cost of each lamp to go toward the volunteers. “We’re helping them to earn a living. They’re able now to sustain their families.”

His cause has nabbed the world’s attention (and ours!!) and this year he’s been nominated as a CNN Hero. He’s in the Top 10 and if you’ve been inspired by his story, then vote for Evans to become THE CNN Hero of the year.

Vote for Evans! http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/02/11/cnnheroes.wadongo/. Excerpted from CNN.

Brian White – The Entertainment Warrior

I work hard to keep anything and everything within my orbit strictly aspirational, thought-provoking, progressive and positive.” -Brian White.

Brian White is no stranger to film and television. Currently playing the outspoken and egotistical Marcus on the hit show ‘Men of a Certain Age’, he also has a starring role in the romantic dramedy ‘Politics of Love’ with Loretta Devine, Ruby Dee, Gerry Bednob and Mallika Sherawat and has a slew of feature films in the coming year.

But this American son is no empty-headed auteur. He thinks deeply about his role as an entertainer, a husband and a family man and more importantly, he questions the world around him to make sure he’s making a positive impact.

Where does his drive come from? In his own words in an Obvious Magazine interview he says,

“In the simplest terms, I want to be a positive alternative to the negativity, via all mediums, I see broadcast and feeding our countries young impressionable minds and being called “entertainment”. I was raised by my mother, Estelle White to: Be the change I wish to see in this world. One way I try to do this is using my social networking platforms (FB, Twitter, Myspace) to promote strictly positive items OR to challenge and/or “call to task” the negative or wrongful items I see. I believe open honest communication is the only real option when it comes to progress. I recognize that my profession affords me an audience; and I desire to use whatever attention I have to usher some kind of positive progressive discussion about whatever the topic may be – with the intended result always being positive growth and change.”

Brian is also dedicated to his woman who’s he’s together with for 6 years… He says that his wife is “truly my best friend and has been with me since before I had a career or money or interviews to discuss it all in. She truly elevates me and I think I am now about to enter my prime professionally.  I have never been this grounded or focused.  It’s awakening a whole new level – which is very exciting artistically.”

We love his method for role selections on both film and television. In his own words: “Keeping it real, I choose roles based on three things: 1) Is this something new for me artistically OR is there a powerful message/statement I can make with the role that is important to me? 2) Is this an opportunity to work with talent or a director I respect and admire? 3) $$$”

Rocking. A man who takes care of his woman and his business with integrity is surely a MenStylePower warrior!!!

Excerpted from http://www.obviousmag.com/category/fashion/men-editorials/

Didier Drogba – The Soccer Ninja Warrior

He’s been described as “a weapon”, “a specimen”, “the scariest footballer in the world.”

Drogba, 32, a striker for England’s Chelsea Football Club and the captain of the Côte d’Ivoire team, has shown the world what’s possible when power and grace fuse on the soccer pitch. Imagine the body of an NBA star with feet as nimble as a prima ballerina’s. Imagine an African soccer hero with a continent on his shoulders.

No one knows the rickety and high-spirited but often heartbreaking touring bus that is African soccer better than Drogba. At the 2006 World Cup, his homeland ravaged by civil war, he organized a statement from the Elephants, as the Ivorian national team is referred to, calling for peace. Many credit the ensuing calm for allowing reconciliation to begin. At a match last March, 22 Ivorians were killed in the crush to see their beloved heroes play. After the game, Drogba resolved to donate every dollar he earns from endorsements to a charity he set up to build new hospitals in the country.

Drogba is conflicted about his stardom; the same love of No. 11 that brought Ivorians together in 2006 also led to the fatal tumult last year. “I’d like the country to ultimately be able to deal with political problems itself,” he says in his soft, French-accented English. “It’s not really good to depend on the win or defeat of the national team. That means there is something wrong.”

On the pitch, Drogba is known for the strength with which he holds off opposing defenders; it’s that awesome ability that scares and baffles his fans. But why should it surprise them? He’s the soccer ninja, plain and simple.

For what this sensitive African young man represents and stands for, he’s been named a 2010 TIME 100 Hero. Excerpted from www.time.com

Mandela – The Peace Warrior

We all know (or should know) what he has contributed to humanity in this century, but have we ever had access to his deep, hidden and intimate thoughts on his life journey?

A new book is being released this month (October 2010) that delves into the mind of Nelson Mandela – comprising of personal notes and hours of recordings from this most humble yet most famous of peace warriors. While other books have recounted Mandela’s life from the vantage of the present, many say, that for the first time Conversations with Myself allows unhindered insight into the human side of this icon, Madiba, the Lion of Africa.

“This is the first time that a book which promises to actually go to the details of his own diaries, letters…these are things which are also rather both public and private in many ways, and he has approved that this be made available to give us the full understanding of the person. So, we are waiting very eagerly. And, I’m waiting personally to read it and try to understand better of this icon that we have as a leader.” Professor Shadrack Gutto, Director, Centre for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa.

Compiled by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, including a foreword by U.S. President Barack Obama, Mr. Mandela’s book is scheduled to be published in 22 countries and in 20 languages.

Excerpts of the book released quote Mr. Mandela as saying, “I have often wondered whether a person is justified in neglecting his own family to fight for opportunities for others.

The book reportedly focuses on his life in prison and some of the struggles that he went through during the apartheid rule in South Africa. Mr. Mandela, who served as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, was believed to have influenced the African National Congress Party (ANC) to form a military branch to challenge the apartheid regime. “The actual situation on the ground may justify the use of violence which even good men and women may find it difficult to avoid.”

Gutto said the book will show Mr. Mandela in a “three dimensional” way never seen or read before. “He never claimed to be a saint. In many respects, I think people who write about (Mr.) Mandela, and even his leadership, really have not been critical enough in my view, particularly when he was president. I believe that there were things done and his leadership…where he was trying to hold the country together that there were so many compromises that sometimes some people were not happy. But, these are not written.”

Madiba, we salute you! Excerpted from www.voiceofamerica.com. ‘Conversations with myself’ is available via Amazon.com.

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