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Interview: Lande Sanusi of The C.A.K.E. Village

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The C.A.K.E. Village is a nurturing environment that immerses children in the culture of Africa. This hidden gem is located in East Dundee, Illinois. Founder, Lande Sanusi recently sat down to talk about what inspired her to create C.A.K.E. Village and of course, natural hair!

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Born in Chicago, Lande spent many years growing up in Nigeria. Later she returned to Chicago to study Mathematics & Computer Science and Project Management at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After graduating, she worked many years as a Telecommunication Engineer.

When the economy took a downturn, Lande was faced with a lay off. Rather than an adversity, Lande viewed being laid off as an opportunity. “I was inspired by my kids. I wanted a fun and friendly place for kids to learn and connect positively with Africa.” The C.A.K.E. Village’s acronym stands for Culture of Africa for Kids Everywhere. The Village offers an African-themed playroom and theatre, a visual arts studio equipped with a kiln, a performing arts studio, and a cooking lounge.

Lande has been fortunate to have always had a good relationship with her hair. “When I treat it well, my hair is well-behaved, cooperative and happy! I was natural all through college and I kept my hair very low. When I graduated from college I kept a relaxer. Four years ago, I decided to go back to natural.” Lande decided to wear her natural texture again when keeping up the relaxer started to take up too much of her time and energy. “I was spending valuable time to drive to the city, wait hours to get my hair done, and then drive back. With four children (one was a newborn), that kind of time was just no longer practical for me.”

Some of Lande’s go-to hair products are Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme for moisture retention, and Carol's Daughter Loc Butter for definition and styling hold. View a few of Lande's styles in the slide show. As for her natural hair inspiration, Lande favors short hair. “Right now, I'm feeling Lupita Nyong'o, Rungano Nyoni, Nigerian Musician Ayo and Chrisette Michele.”

Your family is sure to find an interesting activity at The C.A.K.E. Village. “We have a Ghanaian Arts & Cuisine Affair coming up on March 1st where we'll learn how to weave authentic kente cloth from a master weaver. We'll also have a visual artist do a live piece and the children will enjoy interactive, dress-up folktales.” The Village also offers classes in African cooking, visual arts (like batik, adinkra, adire, kente, bead making, and pottery) and performing arts (like Egyptian belly dancing, African hip-hop and drumming). Programs for schools and organizations are also available.

Find out more about the programs at The C.A.K.E. Village by visiting their website. Stay current on the latest from C.A.K.E. by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

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