Category: #theafricas

concha buika

#MusicMondays | “You Get Me” by Buika x Seal

The idea is to wind down 2016 amidst gratitude, reflection, goal-setting, and looooooooove! So to celebrate the first Monday on the last day of 2016, I’ve discovered and wanted to share the beautiful, rare gem of a voice – Buika – an Equatoguinean Spanish singer. What I love most about the song, beyond the lyrics of the chorus (“you get me”…how wonderful is that to be able to confidently say to someone…anyone!), are Seal and Buika’s voices. Seal has always been a soaring, gritty singer that I love. When Buika comes in with a voice that so similarly matches his in intense vibrancy ….it’s just altogether lovely.

Suddenly the walls are coming down
I won’t be the same when I come around
Suddenly I am understood
It’s all over now

You get me…



Call to Prayers: The End of Ramadan

I wrote this piece in May 2011, as I watched Muslim faithfuls convene to pray in Abuja.  It was inspiring to observe, be caught in the middle of, and document.  The post has also been featured in Pamay Bassey’s My 52 Weeks of Worship Project. Every time I revisit this piece, I am aggressively attempting to edit it. I begin to, but I don’t. I wrote this in a very particular voice; it might be just what it is to keep it this way. Nevertheless – 
Eid Mubarak!

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repete black magic
I spent most of last week with this song replaying in my head, listening to it on repeat at work. And for good reason; it’s a lovely song to say the least. Between Brymo, I’m loving the soul coming from Yoruba artists. Black Magic’s voice is deep and smooth and the trumpet adds the right kind of soulfulness – and how about the chick in the polka-dot top is sufficiently cute!

The Yoruba Orishas

Way back in February for Black History Month, I completed a blog study on the Yoruba orishas, as depicted by Atlanta-based photographer James C. Lewis at Noire3000 Studios. In the event you missed it, please take some time to educate yourself.

The orisha (also spelled orisa, orichá; or orixá in Latin America) are spirits believed to reflect one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba religion. The orishas have made their way from West Africa throughout the so-called New World via the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Yoruba religion itself is housed specifically in present-day southwestern Nigeria, as well as the adjoining parts of Benin and Togo. This area is commonly known as Yorubaland. However, the diverse traditions that make up Yoruba religion can be found all over the African diaspora, influencing belief systems such as Santería (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic), Umbanda (Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay), Loa/Vodou (Haiti and the U.S.), Oyotunji (the U.S.), Trinidad Orisha (Trinidad and Tobago) and Candomblé (Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay).

Appreciation for the orishas has finally caught on! Recently, I caught wind that there is a short film out there in the ether: an African superhero movie, as produced by written, directed as produced by Nigerian filmmaker Nosa Igbinedion. According to Igbinedion, he made the short film in order to prove that there is a market out there for sci-fi based on African characters and storylines. Yes! The whole 12 minute film is below. Now that it’s lunch break….

The orishas I featured for my online study are as follows. If you click on the orishas tag at the end of this post, it’ll take you straight to the appropriate place. Ciao!

aganju orishababaluaye orishaErinle Orisha
esu OrishaIbeji OrishaOba Orisha
obatala Orishaogun Orishaoko orisha
olokun Orishaolorun Orishaori Orisha
orunmila Orishaosanyin Orishaosoosi Orisha
osun Orishaosumare Orishaoya Orisha
sango Orishayemoja Orisha
say her name

“But why are their breasts out?”: #SayHerName

Say. Her. Name. Say her name.

“Although Black women are routinely killed, raped and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality,” said Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, Director of the African American Policy Forum. “Yet, inclusion of Black women’s experiences in social movements, media narratives and policy demands around policing and police brutality is critical to effectively combating racialized state violence for Black communities and other communities of color.”

photo by Sarah Bayard

So I’m not going to spend time re-hashing the recent uprisings, particularly in the cities of Ferguson and Baltimore. I’m not going to spend time re-hashing how the widespread, racially disproportionate incidences of police brutality leading to the deaths of unarmed US civilians have sparked protests and conversations all over the United States within the past couple of years. What I do want to highlight are the women – the women who protest, the women who march and the female victims who are often spoken of as footnotes in the larger contexts of oppression and injustice. Specifically, this post is about how the most recent topless protest in San Francisco by women for women in the #sayhername campaign is a historical bread-crumbing in the way in which African women have protested the devastation of white supremacy, colonialism, and oppression, using their bodies.

This action today was healing. So amazing. Black women are infinitely powerful, ya’ll. #SayHerName

— BrownBlaze (@brownblaze) May 21, 2015

This form of activism is not new. In fact, African women hold a continental tradition of displaying their bodies to protest oppression, injustice and Western standards of beauty. In 1929, the Women’s War of eastern Nigeria was arguably the most powerful and earliest manifestations of protesting status quo by women. The movement, mobilised by Igbo and Ibibio women spread quickly throughout the region.

“In successive actions, women protesters utilized existing communication networks and employed established strategies of public shaming, including occupying public space, dancing, singing ribald and abusive songs, and exposing the physical markers of the status as guardians and reproducers of the land and its inhabitants.” -OkayAfrica

Again, in 1958, the female farmers of the Kom and Kedjom areas of now present-day Cameroon, were incensed by governmental changes, which were interpreted as systematically decreasing the power of female farmers. Thousands of women walked some 40 miles to stage weekly demonstrations in the Njinkom marketplace. At various moments during the protests, the women stripped naked and painted themselves in oil and red cam-wood powder.
Say their names. Read their stories. Demand an end to State violence against Black Women & Girls. #SayHerName

— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) May 21, 2015

In 2001, over 300 Kenyan women stripped down to protest a team of scientists working near a Kenyan nature reserve. Female public nudity is considered an ill-men in many Kenyan communities. The aim of the naked protest was to force the scientists to think twice about annexing their land to extend the nature reserve.

And these are just a few of the protests I researched, where African women led the charge against injustice – injustice from Euro-American oil companies, multi-national entities, scientists, local police. There have been other similar protests throughout history in Kenya, Liberia, South Africa… So, as early as 1929, African female activists have organised themselves and staged peaceful protests! They employed the historical notion of the hyper-sexual black female body and turned it on its head. Infuriatingly, a lot of the media sources from where I pulled my data spoke of the African women as though they were overcome with maddening despair (which is in direct opposition to the way European women who engaged in naked protests were often described!). In the event that it needs to be said explicitly: women’s bodies are not just sexual objects. There is a time and place for everything. If all you can see when you see images from the #sayhername campaign are sexualised breasts, then you have got to re-evaluate your perceptions about women. We won’t talk about breastfeeding here…

The images emerging from the #sayhername campaign are a powerful representation of female activism dating back through history to where Blacks in America began. You really can’t deny the symbolism there. The idea is not to be titillating; it is to employ the female form to be a catalyst for change.

#SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women
Common Dreams
Global Nonviolent Action Database
OkayAfrica: Parallel Histories
Google News