Erlendy Ibarbo Perlaza Intrerview
Erlendy Ibarbo Perlaza
Which universe do you come from?
I am AfroColombian, I will explain what it means.
I was born in Colombia, but I am descendant of Africans and also descendant of Colombian Indigenous people.
I identify as a diverse woman because my roots are diverse.
And it’s very difficult for me, to define exactly from which universe I come from because my origins are quite varied.
Who is Aisha?
May name is Erlendy Ibarbo Perlaza, 7 years ago, I adopted the name Aisha.
I’m an entrepreneur a cheerful woman, proud of her roots and her origins and a woman with a very broad vision.
I like to help my community and I like to be innovative but this innovation is always aimed to improve my quality of life as well as the one of the people with whom I have grown up and I have been related during my whole life.
What would be the main reason for your presence among us?
Or said in a different manner.
What is the purpose of your personal journey?
I believe there is a specific reason, indeed.
I grew in a rural community, in the Colombian Pacific bay, in a population of 500 inhabitants where we didn’t have many things such as secondary education, university, etc.
Which led me to believe that I was born and raised to break many schemes, especially to become a role model for the new generations of women in my community and in my land.
Because, seeing that I could get through a significant amount of obstacles, which is what allows me to define myself today, as a professional woman, an entrepreneur and I also like to teach to show my students that there are more possibilities than the ones that already exist within our country.
What do you do for a living?
I am a professional specialized in foreign trade as well as a university teacher.
I teach at the regional university known as the Universidad del Pacífico, which was founded with a unique character.
It is located in the city of Buenaventura, which is the main port of Colombia, it is also one of the cities with the largest Afrodescendant population in the country, reaching more than 90%.
I am also a naturopath, so to speak. That is, I work with natural extracts with which I create natural cosmetics.
I am also an artisan designer.
I define myself in this way, because for me to create or make objects with my hands is not just making them and that’s that, or making them just for sale; but it’s a spiritual work where I connect with my African and Indigenous American roots, elaborating these crafts or cosmetics.
What can you tell us about your experience as an AfroColombian?
That’s difficult to answer, actually.
I think that being a woman of African descent around the world is inevitably difficult because there are several elements or factors that blend together.
The fact of being a woman in a patriarchal system, being Black in a world with a racist system. I would add other conditions, such as living in a rural environment, not having access to enough economic resources…
All these things put together complicate a person self-construction, since childhood, we as Afrodescendant women, have to learn the way to take a stand and fight back all these barriers.
We have to learn to develop tools that will be useful to overcome this amount of impediments life puts us through.
But I think that, in addition to that, there are many positive features of being what I am, one is the distinctive cultural richness which characterizes us.
We have a lot of things to offer, to give, to create. And, even if it looks as if the system goes against us, with all this cultural richness that we possess, with all that strength, and all that joy and power that is part of us and that we inherited, from our ancestors and especially from our ancestress, we can be strong enough to resist.
How was your personal journey to emancipation?
I am fortunate enough to have a father who is a community leader and a person that has helped to build the foundations of the laws aimed to improve the living conditions of the Afrodescendant population in Colombia, as a result since I was a child my dad taught me a lot of things that were important for my revindicative and vital process.
One of these things were the stories of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, since I was 5 years old I was learning about the struggle for the civil rights movement, Afro pride or the Black empowerment…
From this point, my academic journey through university was done being part of students groups where they taught us about African History prior to slavery, starting from ancient Egypt, the Malian Empire, about the important role Black women had to play.
So, on the basis of all this information, I have built a self-image of a strengthened Black woman, a liberated Black woman, a woman who can build beyond the barriers imposed by the system upon us and a woman who can be an example for new generations to come.
What is love for you?
Love… Oh my God!…
Love for me, would be a feeling, a force and a power that it’s not only a man versus woman relationship, or a sentimental relationship in a couple situation.
It implies a complex spiritual relationship with the members of your community, with family, with friends, with the people you get to meet through life and it becomes part of the construction of the human being.
Do you have family and friends where you live?
In the city where I’m living at the moment, I only have my brother with me. Although, I am nearby my family, they live in a village about 4 hours away by boat.
This city has something very special, to be honest, the whole Colombian Pacific, I would say.
Wherever you may go, you can feel the same sensation.
That is to say, I am from my village, the place I was born, but in this one where I currently live, I feel as if I was home.
People have the same behaviour, act the same way, we share the same cultural aspects, the food, the atmosphere, the way we treat each other, the kindness, it’s very similar to where I come from, so the change of scenery doesn’t make me feel as foreign or weird, even if I don’t live with my love ones.
Your definition of spirituality?
Spirituality for me personally is the exercise of freedom, of believing or being able to connect with what one considers as sacred.
And that is independent of whether it’s a deist entity, of God or several deistic entities.
If it’s not through deism, if it bears no relation with the gods, it’s simply connecting with what is sacred.
What makes you laugh uncontrollably?
Let me think, if I can remember the last time, I laughed uncontrollably…
What makes me laugh without constraint are colloquial terms or words used in a certain region, in a certain place, to designate things related with sexuality, I don’t know if you follow me…
For example, here in the Colombian Pacific region, they make some traditional drinks which are alcoholic appetizers, and most of them have some unique names.
So, every time they come up with a new drink they name it in a very special way. There, I usually say to myself “Oh! People and their creativity inventing such names”, and these things do make me laugh a lot.
Almafrikana Biocosmetics Almafrikana Biocosmetics
Almafrikana is an ecological brand of cosmetics inspired by the beauty secrets of the African continent and medicinal practices of the Colombian Pacific.
AFRONOMADNESS Collective supports this brand and its founder because of the necessary change they represent, teaching another model of consumption, preserving the environment and the health of its customers, betting on raw materials and ancestral formulas being the most compatibles for the delicate nature of Black skin and hair perpetuating traditions with a high quality and safe cosmetic line.
The brand was created in 2016 by Erlendy Ibarbo Perlaza, a professional specialized in foreign trade, aromatherapy and an advocate for positive change in the business world; where women are the protagonists and managers of the sustainable development of their communities.
As an alternative cosmetic offer, Almafrikana promotes the use of fruit and plant extracts as main ingredients of their original formulas. Through the Compilation of ancestral formulas for the development of effective and natural cosmetics, fair trade is encouraged encourages and the preservation of the intangible heritage of the populations who have inhabited the Colombian Pacific.
The formulas are inspired by the ancestral knowledge of the African continent and the Colombian Pacific. Each product is the result of the recompilation of medicinal knowledge, which have been harmonised with aromatherapy rituals and the science of
In Almafrikana Bio, small batches of products are created to provide fresh items, free of preservatives and synthetic fragrances that can dry the skin or hair.
Being 100% natural all the waste from the production process are reused in composting and packaging processes, which eliminates the emission of pollutants that would end up in landfills and water sources.
As a business policy, Almafrikana, has implemented a payment system based on fair prices for suppliers to encourage the community development in the Colombian Pacific and a solidarity-based economy. This approach as a corporate proposal is to protect the suppliers of raw materials of the unfair market that feeds the poverty cycle, paying low
prices for high products quality and devalues the labor employed.
At the moment, Almafrikana is sold exclusively in Colombia and its proximity.
Erlendy Ibarbo Perlaza is currently expanding the existing line with wider choices.