Due North: A Collection of Travel Observations, Reflections, and Snapshots Across Color, Cultures, and Continents

A new travel book by Power Lister Lola A. Åkerström

Due North is a collection of travel observations, reflections, and snapshots spanning two decades across colors, cultures, and continents.

About Lola:

Lola A. Åkerström
Lola A. Åkerström

Having lived on three different continents — Africa, North America, and now Europe — for extended periods of time, Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström is drawn to the complexities and nuances of culture and how they manifest themselves within relationships.

She holds a master’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Lola worked as a consultant and programmer for over a decade before following her dreams of becoming a travel writer and photographer, exploring various cultures through food, tradition, and lifestyle.

Today, she’s an award-winning writer, speaker, and photographer represented by National Geographic Creative. She regularly contributes to high profile publications such as AFAR, the BBC, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure and National Geographic Traveller, to name a few – https://www.akinmade.com

She has received photography and writing awards, including recognition from the Society of American Travel Writers and North American Travel Journalists Association. In addition, Lola is the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth (https://www.slowtravelstockholm.com).

She lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and blogs at https://www.lolaakinmade.com


Etzia competing to represent Sweden at EuroVision 2017

Source: SVT

Etzia in Melodifestivalen 2017: Want to help other women

On Saturday it’s time for debutant Etzia to take the stage in Malmö Arena with the song “Up”. The song is an energetic and full motion and Etzia want with it spread joy and warmth in February cold. But her participation also means a lot to her in her efforts to help other women get around in the music industry.

Etzia has a cheerful number with lots of dancing. But her contribution also stands for something much bigger and more important. Etzia has for several years been working to help other girls in the music industry through the organization Femtastic. The organization is a music network that works to highlight the girls in hip hop and urban music culture and to try to even out the difference between men and women.

Male-dominated industry

– The goal is to promote the live scene to make it 50-50 between men and women and giving women the confidence to take on more in all artistic disciplines, says Etzia.

Etzia explains how the music industry and particularly in just hip hop and urban music is male dominated and it can be difficult for women to take place. Even in Melodifestivalen Etzia mean that there have not been many women who have come forward as a songwriter but more and more people take for themselves.

– It’s only a matter of time. It is time now, says Etzia about the change.

Read the full story.


Gisele Mwepu, founder of Okapi Finance, has been awarded Innovation of the Year.

Gisele Mwepu

This year’s innovation talent goes to Gisele Mwepu that with a huge drive and a desire to improve people’s lives has created Okapi Finance. Okapi has helped to reduce financial exclusion in poor countries by giving people the ability to conduct fast and secure financial transactions and gain legitimacy with banks and financial institutions. It contributes to a safe, inclusive and sustainable financial system in poor countries.

Swedish innovation talent of 2017

What an honor to be Swedish innovation talent of 2017! Thanks to all of you my employees, partners, board members, friends and family! You are the unseen heroes.

VINNOVA is the Swedish innovation agency. Our mission is to promote sustainable growth in Sweden by funding needs-driven research and developing effective innovation. Vinnova is a government agency under the Ministry of Industry and national contact authority for the EU’s framework program for research and development. General Director is Charlotte Brogren.


Kendra in the kitchen

Kendra Valentine: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

Kendra Valentine, Recipe whisperer: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary

Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary notes:

I picked Kendra Valentine to be a Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary Shero because of her sheer and complete love of food. Beyond her love of food she’s obsessed with creating unique flavor combinations and inventive spice delivery techniques. All the while enhancing the experience of fellowship with friends and family and nourishing the body and mind. I first blogged about Kendra in July 2011. I’ve certainly enjoyed several meals with Kendra some that were homemade and others that we were served. Each were mindfully enjoyed and that’s what Kendra’s anniversary gift brings to us: her mindful creation of a recipe meant to be shared with those we love.

Bon appetite Kendra! Your recipe has me licking my lips in anticipation. Yum.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Cannelleni Beans & Kale on Spicy Polenta Cake

Serves 3-4
Meal type Main Dish
Region European
By author Kendra Valentine
Black Women in Europe 10th Anniversary Recipe Created y Kendra Valentine "I wanted to develop a dish that expressed the underlying culinary roots shared by black women throughout the African diaspora. While at the same time highlighting common cooking techniques shared with Europe, as well as by using ingredients more readily available in Europe. Thus, collards have become kale, red beans are traded for cannellini, and coarse cornmeal for refined polenta: to create a dish that is equal parts comfort and celebration to honor the 10th Anniversary of BWIE".



  • 6 chicken thighs (bone-in and skin-on)
  • 1 can cannelleni beans
  • 2 cups chopped kale (packed)
  • 1 small yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (diced)
  • 1 leaf bay
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 can cherry tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups red wine (or just chicken broth)
  • 1 splash red wine vinegar
  • 0.5 teaspoon thyme
  • 0.5 teaspoon oregano
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle black pepper

Chicken (Optional)

  • parsley or fresh herbs for plating

Polenta Cakes

  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Small red chili (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water (boiling)
  • oil (for frying)


I wanted to develop a dish that expressed the underlying culinary roots shared by black women throughout the African diaspora. While at the same time highlighting common cooking techniques shared with Europe, as well as by using ingredients more readily available in Europe. Thus, collards have become kale, red beans are traded for cannellini, and coarse cornmeal for refined polenta: to create a dish that is equal parts comfort and celebration to honor the 10th Anniversary of BWIE.

--Kendra Valentine

Vegetarian substitute for chicken: eggplant & chickpeas.


Step 1
First, go ahead and brown the chicken thighs in a little oil… you’re not cooking them through just browning the outside… then set aside. Turn on the oven to heat up (200 C or 350 F)
Step 2
Into the same roasting pot or Dutch oven (be sure you have oil left) we are going to start the braise with softening the onion and garlic. Also, add your bay leaves and go ahead and cook that down on medium heat until the onion is soft.
Step 3
Next, add in a splash of vinegar… it will sizzle and release all the nice brown bits stuck to the pan… that helps get more delicious into the chicken!
Step 4
Add in a nob of tomato paste and your herbs and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper (I like to salt in stages.)
Step 5
Next, add in the chicken broth and red wine… it helps to break down the meat and gives great flavor. You could just use water or chicken broth as well. Also add in the canned cherry tomatoes and another sprinkle of salt.
Step 6
Finally, add the chicken back to the pot, skin side up, and let that heat up to a nice simmer, then turn the heat down to medium low simmer and cover. All but the very tops of the chicken thighs should be covered in liquid.
Step 7
Transfer to the oven, and after 30 min or so it will soften up…
Step 8
Next, add in the chopped kale and beans. Try to get in beneath the chicken thighs, so it can cook in the liquid. Add a splash of water if needed. Salt to taste. Return to oven.
Step 9
After 15 min., to finish off the thighs, open the pot and let the dish broil under high top heat for a few minutes until golden.
Polenta Cake
Step 10
For the spicy polenta cakes:
(Tip: Get your mix done while the chicken is braising. When you are browning the thighs at the last step, start frying your cakes.)
Step 11
Heat enough oil in a skillet or heavy bottom skillet on high heat. Oil should come up 1/3 up the side of the pan.
Step 12
In a bowl, mix together polenta, salt, and diced chilies. Stir in enough boiling hot water so that the mixture comes together into a smooth batter. Creamy yet firm enough to form into a small patty.
Step 13
Once the oil in the skillet is hot, spoon mixture into hands to form patty then gently place in the hot oil. Fry on each side until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Step 14
To plate:
Place a polenta cake on the plate and then top with the braised kale & cannelleni and juices (that polenta cake will sop it up!). Place a chicken thigh directly on top, and finish with a sprinkle of olive oil and chopped parsley or other fresh herb you have on hand. Enjoy with a bold red wine!
Kendra in the kitchen
Kendra in the kitchen

Kendra Valentine is an American expat living in Berlin and Stockholm. A Boston College Alumni, she currently works freelance with business strategy for start-ups, content development and copywriting. Combining her love of food, and background in film she created the food blog/YouTube channel: Americulinariska.com, which was a finalist in the SAVEUR Blog Awards for “Best Use of Video” 2015. She has also kept busy with illustrating digital children’s books on important topics such as tacos. Her next steps are looking for even more food related assignments as a writer, producer or talent.

About the blog:

Americulinariska: Promoting cooking it for yourself and pushing big flavors is the back bone… fried chicken and tacos complicitly involved. The blog videos are fun, straightforward, and based on exploring the diversity of American food heritage within an international context. The food focuses on cooking good eats no matter where you call home: using creativity and whole food.

Meet all of our Anniversary Sheroes.

DJ Candice McKenzie

Lyota Swainson by Odou John Andrews 150x150 Ellen Kountz: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

Holistic hair care specialist Lyota Swainson

Ellen Kountz

Financial guru Ellen Kountz

Lola_Akerstrom_Headshot_2015 - 300px

Photographer Lola Akerstrom

Lesley-Ann Brown

Poet Lesley-Anne Brown


Big Bottom Blues by Lucie B Lindner

A Woman’s Painful Journey From Childhood Abuse N’ Trauma to Healing and Self-Love by Lucie B Linder

Lucie B Linder

BIG BOTTOM BLUES is a gripping and emotional story about a woman’s traumatic childhood riddled with sexual and physical abuse and its devastating effects in her adult life. Lucie B takes us through the pain of body dysmorphia, isolation, addiction to food, binge eating disorder, shame, guilt and self-loathing that tormented her long after the abuse stopped. She tells her story from the heart, allowing readers to emotionally connect to her world of pain and tribulation. This is a raw and unnerving story that hits the nerve of every woman who has been sexually abused, particularly by the hands of a family member. This emotionally vulnerable book helps survivor step through their “Ring of Fire” to stand strong with renewal and the conviction to forge forward. Big Bottom Blues is more than just a book about healing from childhood rape: it is a story that inspires and empowers women to flip the script on their trauma and turn the shit into success!

Achenyo Idachaba – Keynote – Running Out Of Raw Materials

The Bridge Conference in Lund, Sweden is about building a platform where science and business can meet and prosperous relationships grow. It is about connecting entrepreneurs, opinion leaders and investors with today’s most influential minds within life science and materials science. Our goal is to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges. Meet a keynote speaker.

Achenyo Idachaba
Achenyo Idachaba

Ms. Achenyo Idachaba is a Computer Scientist turned Social Entrepreneur. She is the Founder and Creative Director of MitiMeth, Nigeria. MitiMeth engages riverine communities and local artisans to create eco-friendly handcrafted home and personal accessories utilizing invasive aquatic weeds such as Water Hyacinth and Cattail, Agro-waste such as Banana and Maize.

She also utilizes non-timber forest resources, specifically wild Bamboo. In 2015, Achenyo was nominated the Emerging Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the Creative Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria. In the same year she became a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme Awardee. She is a 2015 TED Speaker and is also the 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Laureate for Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, MitiMeth received the Local Raw Materials Content Award from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) for her innovative use of local raw materials. Achenyo is also a YouWIN Awardee.

Her work at MitiMeth has been featured on CNBC Africa, CNN’s African Start-Up, The Nation and BusinessDay Newspapers, BusinessLife Magazine and also on BusinessAfrica TV. Her work has also been published in the Nigerian Field Journal. Prior to founding MitiMeth and Greennovative Chain Consulting, Achenyo spent 11 years with ExxonMobil where she held a variety of Regional and Global Advisor positions in Planning and Supply Chain operations. She has a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, an M.S. in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University and an M.B.A from Cornell University. She lives and runs MitiMeth in the rustic Southwestern city of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Achenyo Idachaba

She is the keynote speaker at The Bridge 2-day conference in Lund, Sweden.