FALA: Kai Talks to Matheus Len’s

My stay in Salvador was an opportunity to self-reflect, and in doing so I centred my reflection around my ancestry… Who am I?, and who would I have been had my Tabom ancestors not left Salvador da Bahia, Brazil around the year of 1835?

I sought a photographer I could collaborate with to share insight into my ideas on identity and Blackness in Salvador, through pictures.

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I reached out to Matheus, a young and talented photographer based in Salvador, who I’d spotted on Instagram from our mutual connection of working with Afrobapho. He immediately suggested a ‘turban-themed’ shoot even before knowing what I wanted – already a good sign which put me at ease, giving him total creative control. And on the day of our shoot (without a make up artist or change of clothing), we created something which holds so much depth… I allowed myself to express joy (also the name of my late mother), vulnerably (facing my fear of close ups which reveal the bags under my eyes – part of my natural aesthetic), and sheer gratitude which came from both; having the opportunity to collaborate with another black creative like Matheus, and the gratitude of being in the land of my Tabom ancestors… Walking though the same streets they perhaps walked, or even helped build.

I hope you enjoy this series of photographs by Matheus Len’s, and the interview “FALA” he conducted.


Kai para o “FALA” / Kai for the ‘TALK”

(in Portuguese and English)

A jornalista e blogueira Kai fala um pouco sobre o seu trabalho de viagem pelo mundo em busca de conhecer novas culturas e se conectar com sua ancestralidade. Kai é natural de Gana mas viveu maior parte da sua vida em Londres onde mesmo assim não abriu mão de conhecer a sua língua matriz, as comidas típicas e tradições que eram ensinadas pelos seus pais. Kai também fala sobre seus ancestrais que faziam partes de grupos de escravos libertos ou refugiados que deixaram a Bahia depois da revolta dos
malês indo em direção a Gana onde acabaram se instalando por conta da hospitalidade da população local. Ela conta também que eles foram batizados de “Tabom” porque falavam apenas português e sempre respondiam os moradores com um “Ta bom!”, reforça também o pouco conhecimento dos brasileiros sobre a comunidade Tabom…


I’m free because they fought against oppression… What would my ancestor have been doing on this date, 1813?

Journalist and blogger Kai talks a little about her work traveling the world in search of knowing new cultures and connecting with her ancestry. Kai is a native of Ghana but lived most of his life in London where she did not give up knowing his mother tongue, the typical foods and traditions that were taught by her parents. Kai also talks about her ancestors who made parts of groups of freed or banished enslaved who left Bahia after the revolt of the Malês going towards Ghana where they ended up settling because of the hospitality of the local population. She also says that they were baptised “Tabom” because they only spoke Portuguese and always answered the residents with a “Ta bom!”. Also reinforces the little knowledge of the Brazilians about the Tabom community…


I express myself through colour, being vibrant and knowing that I have agency to take up space because of their sacrifices for me to be here…

Infelizmente minha comunidade Tabom em Accra Gana não é muito conhecida, e muitos brasileiros não sabem de nós. Eu sinto que sou um embaixadora dos meus antepassados ​​quando posso compartilhar esta história de seu retorno à África.

Unfortunately my Tabom community in Accra Ghana is not very well known, and many Brazilians do not know about us. I feel that I am an ambassador of my ancestors when I can share this story of their return to Africa.


I see myself in my full light; the strength in my steps, the tiredness in my eyes, the light in my darkness…

É a terceira vez que Kai vem ao Brasil e diz que conhecendo a Bahia se sente em casa em meio a tanta semelhança a Gana, na forma de dançar, de usar os turbantes, no orgulho que expressamos a nossa cultura e a nossa cor de pele. E mesmo sem falar português ela se sente conectada pela nossa cultura e pelos seus ancestrais.

It is the third time that Kai comes to Brazil and says that knowing Bahia feels at home amid so much resemblance to Ghana, in the form of dancing, wearing the turbans, in the pride that we express our culture and our skin colour. And even without speaking Portuguese she feels connected by our culture and her ancestors.

“Soft Grass”

There’s beauty in vulnerability… We can be strong, yet soft at the same time…

Kai tem escrito sobre sua experiencias no Brasil em seu blog e conta que esta escrevendo um livro que vai falar sobre essas experiencias, o livro se chama “Viagem em meus próprios termos; uma jornada de auto-estima e descoberta de uma garota negra”.

Kai has written about her experiences in Brazil in her blog and says that she is writing a book that will talk about these experiences, the book is called “Travel on my own terms; a black girl’s journey of self-worth and discovery.


Our connections across the African-diaspora is strong and powerful… I’m a better person for discovering this

Fica aqui todo meu amor e gratidão por essa pessoa incrivel na qual pude conhecer de perto, obrigado Kai! Abaixo segue todas as redes sociais de Kai e o link do seu blog.

Stay here all my love and gratitude for this incredible person that I could meet up close, thank you Kai! Below is all the social networks of Kai and the link of your blog.

Instagram: @travelmakerkai
Blog: http://www.travelmakerkai.blog
Facebook: Travelmakerkai Blog

Entrevista e Fotos por Matheus Len’s/ Words and photos by Matheus Len’s. Click Here to follow Matheus Len’s on Instagram

Muito obrigada Matheus! Thank you very much Matheus! Photo: @travelmakerkai

I’ll be sharing more from behind the scenes of this photoshoot in the coming weeks… In the meantime let me know your thoughts in the comment box below! Which series is your favourite?

Love and light,

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Please support my craft by crediting (including suitable links to this blog or my social media platforms) should you use any of my pictures. All copyrights belong to ©Travelmakerkai unless stated otherwise. 
I’m always on the look out for local photographers to collaborate with, and influencers to interview for the blog… Interested? Contact me and let’s get creative!




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