Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cosmopolitan Kenya - Who Knew?

I had no idea that there was a Kenyan edition of Cosmopolitan Magazine until I came across this photo of Ajuma Nasenyana on the cover.

Apparently, it launched in 2005 but I couldn't really find much else on the web about it. I'm not even sure if it is still being published. 

It's the second African edition of Cosmo (behind South Africa) and the magazines have many similarities. First of all, they share content, but there are an additional 30 pages of local content added to the Kenyan edition. Kenyan Cosmo also has a unique cover and chooses models for the editorial images which makes the Kenyan section "blacker" than the rest of the magazine. Lastly, the frank sexual discussion which made Cosmo famous in the US and other parts of the world are toned down quite a bit to bring it in line with local social mores.  According to The Guardian, this is the target audience: 

She is proud of being African, though she prefers to wear her hair straight. She is just as interested in having a career as a western woman, though perhaps more coy about sex.

I can't remember the last time I picked up an issue of American Cosmo. When I was younger it was always front and center in the supermarket right next to People Magazine by the cashier. Back then, reading it held a vouyeristic appeal. I may have been stuck in Tacoma with a bus pass that only worked on weekdays before 6 pm but they gave me a glimpse into what life was life for real women - women who traveled a lot, dated all kinds of men, had an unusual amount of sex and  dressed like extras from Dynasty. I imagined that all the ridiculous monthly quizzes were what these worldy women did to pass the time on their flights to exotic locations. I had a really active imagination back then. 

I'm not sure why no one ever imports these magazines for US consumption. I can only really speak for myself but I'd be very interested in reading African lifestyle magazines. I'm also continually peeved that networks like BET or TVOne haven't bought the rights to the Nigerian versions of Big Brother or America's Next Top Model. It would be a hell of an improvement over what they are airing now.


lapetitediva said...

Wow! I would LOVE to get my hands on a copy of Kenyan Cosmo. I gave up on US Cosmo several years ago when it became apparent that they weren't going to have any more Black models on their covers(at the time, Naomi was the last Black model I saw, and that was back in 1990!). However, for some reason, I'm thinking that perhaps Beyonce managed to be featured on a cover sometime last year? Did I imagine that? I dunno, anyway...

Yes, it would be great if BET or TVOne bought the rights to the Nigerian versions of ANTM and Big Brother, and as you stated, a vast improvement over the stuff they're currently airing. I would actually have a reason to tune in to those channels.

QueenK.D.W.-BK86 said...

Nigerian Big Brother or Nigerian Top Model both do sound like they would be great. Is there a Pan African or African continental channel? I know in the UK there is a Nollywood channel on subscription service.

I find the Guardian's summation of the target audience and the mix between what's seen as Western European/American norms and the other practices of traditional Kenyans interesting. I feel like those are tensions I've seen at play throughout a wide variety of cultures.

I never really understood Cosmo or Glamour. Marie Claire always had more of a pull. I never understood how many different ways they could word the same "ten ways to make...," but I guess that is the power of great writers.

I doubt these will be available at the local supermarket any time soon, but it would be great if they were sold at the huge magazine stores (like Universal) or even in neighborhoods with strong enough communtities to support. I have a feeling Cosmo Kenya would speak to me a lot more than Cosmo America ever did. (Complete random thought: This could make a really good cultural imperialism vs. globalization argument.)

Chic Noir said...

Thanks for this, I had no idea about the Kenyan Cosmo.Bridgette, there is also a South African version of Elle. There is also a website for the mag. SA Elle's firt Editor and Cheif was a blk woman but I can not remember her name.
Ghana also has an edition of topmodel.

By the way, French Glamour has a high ranking blk editor with natural hair. If you can find or know any info about her please pass it along.

Chic Noir said...

FYI, Rihanna is currently on the cover of British mag Company and French Glamour.

Amina said...

There has got to be a way to order Cosmo Kenya online, right? THAT, I would subscribe to.

Brigitte said...

@chic noir - I have heard of SA Elle, I keep debatingif I want to plunk down the $90 for a subscription but I am really curious about it. I didn't know that the editor is black, I'll have to try to look her up. I'll also get a friend to send me a French Glamour.

@Amina - I couldn't find a website for the magazine and didn't find anything written about it more recent than 2005.

Shaymer said...

Ajuma is beautiful I love her skin.

Ladybrille said...

Feels Good to Be Home blog sent me your way. Suprised Cosmo ha sa black girl on their cover but not suprised on how progressive the Kenyan fashion industry is.

Chic Noir said...

@ Brigette- I saw the editors pic in a Jappanesse mag when they were highlighting all of the Eurpean editors for their style.