If music is the pulse of Africa, then fashion is her eye sight. The Democratic Republic of Congo has produces many stars who have gone on to grace the stages of Europe and the US and brought many
a night in the African night clubs to a pulsating climax. One of these versatile Congolese artists is Kaysha whose real name is Edward Mokolo Jnr.
Africa's women are known to be strong. They carry the weight of the continent and their roots with pride. This is especially visible for those who have risen to global prominence and commanded the attention of the world. Amongst those from the Congo is the beautiful and charismatic supermodel Noella Coursaris.
Within Noella's vision of an African future is one where fashion and music comes together. Where the production and execution of events and entertainment is a notch above what is expected and African stars receive the recognition and respect they deserve.
As part of the ground work to lay the seeds for this vision, African Path got a chance to sit down with both Noella and Kaysha: two of the Democratic Republic of Congo's hottest stars to talk about their careers, aspirations and the Congo.
Below is an excerpt from an interview Noella and Kaysha had with African Path.
African Path: How did the two of you meet?
Noella: Olivia Senghor who wanted us to contribute to her upcoming TV show
Kaysha: Through a mutual friend called Olivia that usually does the make-up for Noella. She told me about her maybe a year before, "You gotta meet my friend Noella.”
What is the craziest thing you have done together?
Noella: The shoot that we did. It was great fun, great team and from that, we got to know each other better.
Kaysha: She's the crazy girl, I'm very very sane. So in terms of getting crazy, just ask her...
Kaysha, how have you managed to attract such a huge following in Africa?
Well, making good music is a start, then trying to have great quality videos, making lots of shows and trying to be diverse in the way I see the music and genres. I try not to get stuck in one style or genre.
Kaysha, how many albums have you done and was there one that was especially challenging? Which one is your most personal work?
I have done 5 albums and they are all personal. Each represents a state of my life and that's why they are always recorded in different locations and countries. I have recorded in South America, Europe, US, Africa. None of the albums were challenging to make since I make music like I breathe and breathing is natural...
Noella, in a previous interview, you mentioned a desire to improve entertainment in Africa. How do you see yourself progressing with this goal and is Kaysha part of the overall vision?
I think we should all collaborate. It makes the product complete since we bring different things to the table: our personalities, backgrounds, field experiences and the like. I hope we can work on charity events, bringing peaceful and positive messages to upcoming generations while opening the eyes of the old generation.
Are there any future projects in which you will get to work together?
Noella: I am sure we will work together since we are of the same generation. We have seen Africa, Europe and America. That means we can bring something different to our country and to the world as a whole.
Kaysha: Well I'm sure that with her foundation and my record company, there's a lot to be done in terms of bringing joy but also opening the eyes of the young kids across Africa.
Both of you are from the Congo but moved to Europe at an early age. How do you manage to stay in touch with Africa and the Congo and how do you see your future in relation to the country?
Noella: My mum is still in the Congo so I visit her sometimes. I keep in constant contact with her and I have friends there whom I am still in touch with. I listen, read news and love my African music. I am still discovering the continent and it is a wonderful experience. I am working on a foundation—Georges Malaika Foundation whose work is to assist young women in the Congo who wouldn't have had a chance to receive a good education. I have an amazing team around me who are helping realize this objective. In June I had the opportunity of speaking at the Democratic Republic of Congo's Independence Day celebrations in Brussels and that was a bid honor.
Kaysha: I guess you never leave Africa because Africa is in you. I was born in Africa so I'm part of Africa anywhere I go. Furthermore, it's because of music and that huge following in Africa that the tie between the continent and me got thicker... I can't say if I'll go back to live in Africa in the future because I simply don't know, but I'll keep representing where I'm from through music, wisdom, way of life, my t-shirt company, and other opportunities as they avail themselves.
Both of you are well traveled, what are your favorite locations for vacationing, living and a night out in town?
Noella: I love Montreaux, Switzerland because it is where I studied. I love London. Before coming to New York, I worked in London and developed some amazing friendships there. I still work there...it is such a unique city. I love the beaches and the sun in Venezuela. I love New York too since it gives you wings. The sky is the limit in this city. I go to Congo to eat my African food, listen to music and see my family. I will never forget where I came from.
Kaysha: For vacationing Atlanta in the US is the place to be. I have a lot of great friends there and the African community is big. New York City is the best place to live. This is the city that never sleeps and I never sleep. I love to be in a place where I can always find something to do like studio sessions, working with artists, networking, anything. A night out in Lisbon, Portugal is like no other: The clubs are beautiful and you have the best music and the sweetest girls.
How do you measure success?
Noella: I measure success in terms of happiness.
Kaysha: I'm into making sweet music; I have no idea how successful I am.
Do you have any crazy fan encounters you would like to share?
Noella: I have few fans that send me regular gifts, write me messages and the like but most of them respect me a lot!
Kaysha: In the West Indies once, a girl came backstage crying and yelling, “Look, how much I love you!” She had my name tattooed on her big breasts. Very scary.
How often do you visit the Congo?
Noella: Every two years
Kaysha: Really not often enough. But it's because of two things. First there was a 10 year war and I was happy not to be part of that ugly thing. Second, I have a lot of shows all around the world and it's really hard to find good promoters to make great performances back home. I'm here waiting patiently. Lately, I have received lots of great proposals so it should change in the near future.
Any big dreams for the country?
Noella: Peace, no corruption, and stability. This will bring back all the native Congolese that went to study and get experience abroad. I also hope we get better tuition for schools, better pay and improved standards of living. We shouldn't attempt to copy Europe and the US culturally but rather keep our own traditions and values, respect and independence. Congratulations to Dikembe (Mutombo) for all that he is doing for the country. He is a role model and leading by example. I met him through a fundraising ceremony where he received an award. Of the greatest importance, we have to stand united.
Kaysha: I hope we get electricity and drinking water for everyone. Clean streets and the eradication of corruption will be good. A protection system for artists would be of importance. It is a shame that we can't make a living out of our continent while we are so popular.
Is there any truth to the rumors that the two of you are romantically involved? If not are you romantically involved with anyone?
Noella: We have great chemistry when we work together, and we deliver. We are friends but it is more like brother and sister. We have lots of respect for each other as human beings and for our careers.
Kaysha: We are just friends and nothing has happened. I am single right now and I am enjoying the hell out of it.