Tag Archives: congo

Q+A with Philanthropist Noella Coursaris Musunka

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

– African proverb

Noella Coursaris Malaika thandiekay.com

Noella and the schoolgirls of Malaika in Congo

Noella was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At five yers old she went to live with relatives in Belgium and then to Switzerland to finish her education, where she graduated in Business Management.

As well as modelling, Noella founded Malaika in 2007 with a mission to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education. Based in New York, the non-profit operates in Kalebuka, in the Southeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Noella Noella. This girl is simply Fabulous with a capital F. She defies all the normal rules – from where I’m standing anyway.

Noella and Thandie

Noella and Thandie

Noella is like alchemy – she turns everything, whether sad, happy , difficult or easy – she turns it into positive energy. Despite strife in Congo, she continues to build her school to greater heights. The school is a microcosm for Congo, Africa and the world – make it strong and it will aid everything around it. Education is more beautiful to Noella, than anything else. And she is wonderfully savvy when using her super-model good looks to charm help from those that can. Bill Clinton, Ben Affleck…Noella has shared stages with the movers and shakers of the world – all with one motive – to EDUCATE GIRLS. We love you Noella xx Thandie

1. What is your earliest beauty memory?

The moments my Mother and I used to spend together. She is my definition of beautiful because she taught me that real beauty is when it comes from the inside out.

2. I feel most beautiful when…….

I feel most beautiful when I’m inspired. And I’m most inspired when I’m working for Malaika because it is so close to my heart. Everyday I’m able to see the impact on our girls in the Congo- from nutrition to physical fitness to intellectual growth. And now that I am a mum of two kids, I feel inspired to always put my kids first in order to foster their development and growth.

Noella by Susannah Baker Smith for Violet Magazine

Noella by Susannah Baker Smith for Violet Magazine

4. Who do you find beautiful and why?

I find those beautiful who are courageous enough to fight for what they believe in and chase after their own dreams no matter what the circumstances. When people do things with passion- that is symbolic of real beauty. Beauty is more in the actions you are taking and reflection of your character than anything.

5. When you were a child, what was your Mother’s beauty routine?

I didn’t get to really grow up with my Mum as she sent me to live with relatives abroad at a young age. Yet what I do know is that although she rarely wears any makeup at all, she has a red lipstick that she loves to wear.

Noella Coursaris thandiekay.com


Noella by Jackie Dixon Hair Vernon Francois Mup by Kay

Noella by Jackie Dixon Hair Vernon Francois Mup by Kay

6 Is make-up a chore or a delight?

I believe make-up should be used as a delight. In my opinion it is a way for women to highlight and outline features of their face – it is an accessory we can decorate our naturally beautiful self with. Just like my mum, I love my lipsticks and have more than twenty or so at home that I love to play with and mix colours

7. Did your father refer to your Mother’s beauty, and how?

My father passed away when I was very young, but from what I know about him, he was very much in love with my mother and everything she stood for. He referred to her elegance, which is the best kind of beauty.

8. What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry?

I would like to see more at the top of the industry use their fame and publicity to advocate for those who don’t have access to the most beautiful and powerful mechanism of change we have, and that is education. We need to pour fame and status into areas such as education, health and environmental advocacy. Every celebrity is a role model and it is up to them to really make a difference in what they stand for.

9. When was the last time your mascara ran, and why?

The last time my mascara ran was either when I visited our school for girls in Congo and saw the improvement in our girls (it is so touching to see them grow),  or when my daughter turned 2 years old and said “Mum I love you.”

 10. If you could give one beauty ‘gift’, what would it be? 

I will always choose education as the best gift someone can give – it is beauty in and of itself because through education we can uncover our true selves and learn about our passions. What is more beautiful than that?


Visit Malaika!

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The Magic of Malachite

Post by Thandie

Malachite. Originally discovered in Egypt, this rich, deep green, copper-based stone has been used in jewellery and ornaments for thousands of years. Its patterned bands of contrasting green, like the dendrochronology of trees, are mesmerising. For some, malachite holds spiritual meaning too – thought to protect the wearer from evil spirits, it was often used as a guardian stone for children and travellers.

Most Malachite today comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – also Zimbabwe, Zambia, Gabon and Namibia (always try and find out if your purchases are conflict-free. Under the Dodd-Frank Act you have the right to know the source of minerals).

Kay Montano and Thandie Newton thandiekay.com

Kay in Thandie’s Mum’s Malachite necklace over vintage silk shirt. Thandie in a Malachite coloured vintage (both from Kensal Vintage ) dress and matching eyeshadow


My family left Africa in the early 70s, settling on the farthest coast of England.

As I was two when we left, I don’t have actual memories of Africa; thandie-in-malachite-dress--591x1024only internalised stories that I’d cling to with pride. Our house in Cornwall was decorated simply. My Dad was an antique dealer so we were familiar with beautiful objects – and soaked up knowledge of place and history in his daily dealings. I’d spend Saturdays in the shop he ran with my Grandad – I’d polish the brass and silver. Whenever I arrived my Grandad would say “Here’s my little ray of sunshine”. Happy days.

To me, our house was where we stored the really precious prizes. Artefacts from Southern Africa – Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe. These places were my heritage – the place where my parents met and fell in love, where my brother was born and where we lived with a chameleon called Dorcas as our pet.

Kay's Malachite bangle given to her by Noella Coursaris from Congo

Kay’s Malachite bangle given to her by Noella Coursaris from Congo

Now in Cornwall; large, ornate masks decorated with beads and shells, hung from the wall. Mum had garlands of beaded necklaces – so intricate I couldn’t see where the design began and ended. These were all from their travels around Southern Africa; physical pieces of that place, to ground them in their new home. And the most precious of all – MALACHITE.

We had small carvings, jewellery (see Kay above wearing Mum’s necklace) – we daren’t touch, only stare at the gorgeous green patterns, in awe. I was pretty sure no other kid knew what Malachite was. The closest they got was Kryptonite.

No, Malachite stored all the secrets of Zimbabwe for me – my ancestral home. It seemed a living, energetic, mystical thing. It is so unusually beautiful that one can’t help but be in awe.

My Mum pointed out recently, that Malachite can be poisonous if used improperly (isn’t that strangely true for absolutely everything?). If the stone is not sealed, the dust from wear and tear is toxic if inhaled. Look, but don’t touch.

Malchite inspired interiors thandiekay.comIt’s funny to me to see how Malachite has been used in other parts of the world – particularly in Chintzy, garish decor. Actually that’s precisely my favourite kind – good old 70s mishmash of cultures and naughty reproductions.

I was in the super cool and chilled Covell Hotel in Los Angeles recently, and I walked into my room and was surrounded by wallpaper emblazoned with a malachite design. Heaven.

Cole & Son do a fabulous Malachite wallpaper design.

Cole & Son Malachite wallpaper thandiekay.com









And this season check out the poisonously delicious Louboutin patent malachite stilettos.

Christian Louboutin Malachite Stilettos thandiekay.com

Malachite is a trend!

Whether it’s the real thing, or a more sober reproduction, I recommend having at least one moment of malachite in your life. Dance with danger. Meow!

Malachite trend


Thandie thandiekay.com

Dress by SUNO , ring by Solange Azagury Partridge and vintage hat found in Chicago

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