Posted by: humilityjoy | September 29, 2014

Blague Africaine on Hip… / African joke on Hip…

A hippopotamus

A hippopotamus

Un groupe de chasseurs en Afrique et parmi eux un bègue:
Le bègue : “Hip, Hip, Hip
Les autres : “Hourra !!!
Le bègue : “hippopotaaammmee

=====

A group of hunters in Africa, and among them a stutterer:

The stutterer: “Hip, Hip, Hip

The others: “Hurray !!!

The stutterer: “Hippopotaaammmuuss

Posted by: humilityjoy | September 25, 2014

The Return of Steve Biko and Quotes

Steve Biko

Steve Biko

I would like to share with you some quotes by Steve Biko himself.  When I read Biko’s words, I realize that he was a true African leader who wanted good for all; he was really ahead of his time.  I have also added, at the end, a documentary The Return of Biko‘ by Jeff Ogola. Enjoy!

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The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Speech in Cape Town, 1971

It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.

“At the time of his death, Biko had a wife and three children for which he left a letter that stated in one part: “I’ve devoted my life to see equality for blacks, and at the same time, I’ve denied the needs of my family. Please understand that I take these actions, not out of selfishness or arrogance, but to preserve a South Africa worth living in for blacks and whites.”

“The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity.” From Steve Biko’s evidence given at the SASO/BPC trial, 3 May 1976

“In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift – a more human face.

'I Write What I Like' by Steve Biko

‘I Write What I Like’ by Steve Biko

Merely by describing yourself as black you have started on a road towards emancipation, you have committed yourself to fight against all forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being.” The Definition of Black Consciousness, I Write What I Like, 1978.

Black man, you are on your own.”  Slogan coined by Steve Biko for the South African Student’s Organization, SASO. 

We do not want to be reminded that it is we, the indigenous people, who are poor and exploited in the land of our birth. These are concepts which the Black Consciousness approach wishes to eradicate from the black man’s mind before our society is driven to chaos by irresponsible people from Coca-cola and hamburger cultural backgrounds.”  The Quest for a True Humanity, I Write What I Like, 1978.

 

“It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realize that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality. The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.  We Blacks, I Write What I Like, 1978.
Black Consciouness Movement flag

Black Consciouness Movement flag

You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can’t care anyway.”  On Death, I Write What I Like, 1978

Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time. Its essence is the realization by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression – the blackness of their skin – and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude.  The Quest for a True Humanity, I Write What I Like, 1978.

There are also several articles on this African martyr: articles by South African History, The Independent, Time, and Black Agenda Report.  Enjoy!!!

Steve Biko

Steve Biko

The month of September is sadly quite a busy month when it comes to African martyrs: many of our martyrs were either born or assassinated that month, Ruben Um Nyobe, Agostinho Neto, Steve Biko, Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to name just a few.  Today, I have decided to talk about Steve Biko.

Steve Biko, is known to many as the outspoken leader of the Black Consciousness (BC) movement.

Stephen (Steve) Bantu Biko was born on 18 December 1946 in Ginsberg township, in present-day Eastern Cape, in South Africa.  Biko was the third of 4 children, and belonged to the Xhosa ethnic group.  He was orphaned at the tender age of 4, after his father passing.  As a child, he attended Brownlee Primary School and Charles Morgan Higher Primary School.  He was sent to Lovedale High School in 1964, a prestigious boarding school in Alice, Eastern Cape, where his older brother Khaya had previously been studying.  During the apartheid era, with no freedom of association protection for non-white South Africans, Biko would often get expelled from school for his political views.  He was influenced by Frantz Fanon‘s and Aime Cesaire‘s works, and like Fanon, he first started as a medical doctor, before turning to politics.

Black Consciouness Movement flag

Black Consciouness Movement flag

Steve Biko was not alone in forging the Black Consciousness Movement.  He was nevertheless its most prominent leader, who with others, guided the movement of student discontent into a political force unprecedented in the history of South Africa.  Can you imagine that: all alone they created a force that scared the apartheid regime, and started it on its end.  Biko and his peers were responding to developments that emerged at the height of the hideous apartheid regime.  This culminated with the Soweto uprising of 1976.

The Black Consciousness movement argued that blacks had to overcome the feelings of inferiority instilled into them by 300 years of domination, the “oppression within“, before they could deal with whites as equals. “It [BC] seeks to infuse the black community with a new-found pride in themselves, their efforts, their value systems, their culture, their religion and their outlook to life,” Biko explained in 1971.

Steve Biko was a very charismatic, tall, handsome, and articulate man.  Once asked by a judge “Why do you call yourself black, when your skin is brown?” Biko replied “Why do you call yourself white, when you are actually pink?” – he bore himself with rare confidence that showed no hint of any “oppression within.”  Remember his famous phrase “Black is Beautiful“, which was an inspiration to the civil rights movement in the USA, and to many other movements across the globe.

'I Write What I Like' by Steve Biko

‘I Write What I Like’ by Steve Biko

In order for Black People to achieve their freedom being political and economical, Steve Biko believed that they should rally together; hence he said:  The realization by the Black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression – the blackness of their skin – and to operate as a group in order to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude.

Biko understood that the system we are facing is not just a matter of laws and policies that suppresses us, he knew that the system seeks to undermine our thinking, ideas, values  and beliefs, thus he said:  The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.

On 18 August 1977, Steve Biko was arrested at a police roadblock under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967 and interrogated by officers of the Port Elizabeth security police including Harold Snyman and Gideon Nieuwoudt.  This interrogation took place in the Police Room 619 of the Sanlam Building in Port Elizabeth.  The interrogation lasted twenty-two hours and included torture and beatings resulting in a coma.  He suffered a major head injury while in police custody at the Walmer Police Station, in a suburb of Port Elizabeth, and was chained to a window grille for a day.  On 11 September 1977, police loaded him in the back of a Land Rover, naked and restrained in manacles, and began the 1100 km drive to Pretoria to take him to a prison with hospital facilities.   He died shortly after arrival at the Pretoria prison, on 12 September.  The police claimed (and the apartheid government) his death was the result of an extended hunger strike, but an autopsy revealed multiple bruises and abrasions and that he ultimately succumbed to a brain hemorrhage from the massive injuries to the head, which many saw as strong evidence that he had been brutally clubbed by his captors.

'Cry Freedom' the movie on Steve Biko

‘Cry Freedom’ the movie on Steve Biko

Biko believed in the unity of the oppressed, he also knew we should constantly educate each other on what is happening in our society.  Today, Biko’s views could be applied to almost every society where there are oppressed people, oppressed by unfair laws, unfair economics that favors extreme greed, forced into poverty, and dehumanization.

I watched the movie Cry Freedom which talked about Biko’s life, and also about his journalist friend Donald Woods who published the pictures of Biko’s beaten body after his death, thus showing to the entire world that he had been brutally murdered by the South African police.  I do recommend it, the main actor is none other than Denzel Washington.  To learn more about Biko, you could read his own book I Write What I Like, or the autobiographic book Biko by Donald Woods.  In 1980 the singer Peter Gabriel had a world hit titled Biko, in which he sang: “You can blow out a candle/ But you can’t blow out a fire/ Once the flames begin to catch/ The wind will blow it higher.”  Let us all, keep the fire of Steve Biko. Enjoy this rare video of Steve Biko talking!

 

 

Posted by: humilityjoy | September 18, 2014

Proverbe Douala sur la méfiance / Duala Proverb on Distrust

Oiseau / Bird

Oiseau / Bird

Quand l’oiseau ne connaît pas l’arbre, il ne va pas s’y reposer (Proverbe Douala, Cameroun). –  Ne visitez que les bons voisins.

When a bird doesn’t know a tree, it doesn’t rest there (Duala proverb, Cameroon). –  Visit only good neighbors.

Posted by: humilityjoy | September 16, 2014

‘African Queen’ by 2Face Idibia

African Woman

African Woman

Queen Nzingha of Angola

Queen Nzingha of Angola

To all my precious queens out there, I had to share this dear song.  The lyrics are simply out of this world, and the ladies in the video just too beautiful.  I raise my hat to 2Face Idibia for capturing the African beauty so well.  I have included parts of the lyrics below; for the full version, go here: Enjoy!

 

‘African Queen’ by 2Face Idibia

Just like the sun, lights up the earth, you light up my life
The only one, I’ve ever seen with a smile so bright
And just yesterday, you came around my way

And changed my whole scenery with your astonishing beauty

Ah, you gonna make a brother sing,
You ordinary thing, a supernatural being,

I know you are just brighter than the moon
Brighter than the star, I love you just the way you are.

And you are my African Queen, the girl of my dreams.
You take me where I’ve never been
You make my heart go ting-a-ling-a-ling, oh ahh
You are my African Queen, the girl of my dreams
And you remind me of a thing
And that is the African beauty yahhh


Out of a million you stand as one
The outstanding one
I look into your eyes, girl what I see is paradise, 

So black so beautiful

… I love you, ooohhh yeah, my African Queen, I
Love you, I love you

Posted by: humilityjoy | September 11, 2014

Proverbe Basuto sur l’egoisme / Basutho Proverb on Selfishness

Lion

Lion

Le lion ne prête pas ses dents à son frère (Proverbe Basuto – Lesotho).  Charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même.

A lion does not lend his teeth to its brother (Basuto proverb – Lesotho).  Charity begins at home.

Posted by: humilityjoy | September 8, 2014

Why the Name: Cairo?

Map of Egypt

Map of Egypt

Dear all, today, I would like to talk about the city of Cairo, the capital of Egypt.  Have you ever wondered what the name of Africa‘s second most populous city, after Lagos, stood for?

Old Cairo, 1900s, Fustat

Old Cairo, ca early 1900s, Fustat

Well, Cairo’s official name is al-Qāhirah, which means literally: “Place or Camp of Mars“, in reference to the fact that the planet was rising at the time of the city’s foundation as well as, “the Vanquisher“; “the Conqueror“; “the Victorious” or, “the Strong” (al-Qahira) in reference to the much awaited Caliph Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah who arrived from the old Fatimid capital of Mahdia in 973 AD to the city.   “The Victorious” is often quoted as the most popular meaning of the name Cairo.  The Egyptian name for Cairo is said to be: Khere-Ohe, meaning: “The Place of Combat“, supposedly, in reference to a battle which took place between the Gods Seth and Horus. Sometimes the city is informally also referred to as كايرو Kayro [ˈkæjɾo]. It is also called Umm al-Dunya, meaning “the mother of the world“.

Modern-day Cairo

Modern-day Cairo

Cairo is located on the shores of the Nile river, as well as on several adjacent islands in the north of Egypt.  To the west of the city is Giza, and its ancient necropolis of Memphis on the Giza plateau, with its three great pyramids among which the Great Pyramid of Cheops and the Great Sphinx.  The area around present-day Cairo, especially  Memphis, had long been a focal point of Ancient Egypt, its pharaohs, and its rich culture, due to its strategic location upstream from the Nile Delta.  However, the origins of modern-day Cairo are generally traced to a series of settlements in the first millenium, as Memphis’ importance was declining.  In the 4th century AD, the Romans established a fortress town, known as Babylon, along the east bank of the Nile. This fortress remains the oldest structure in the city to this day. Later on, the Caliph al-Mu’izz li Din Allah of the Fatimid dynasty moved his capital from Mahdia in Tunisia to Cairo in 973; and gave the city its present name, al-Qahira (“The Victorious“).  Cairo remained the capital through the end of the Fatimid dynasty 200 years later, and has remained the capital of Egypt through the Ottoman rule, and into the modern era.

The Great Sphinx of Giza

The Great Sphinx of Giza

Indeed, Cairo’s life has been quite victorious.  Egypt is the land of so many rich civilizations: the great Pharaohs of Egypt, the Greeks, Babylonians, RomansMuslims with the introduction of Islam; thus Cairo inherited from this wealth and has been a great melting pot.  Egypt as a whole, and Cairo in particular, is like an open museum with monuments reflecting different periods of the world’s history.  As Africa’s second largest city, Cairo is a vibrant city, with the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab world, and the world’s second oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University founded in 969 AD.

Please enjoy this great city, Cairo, the Victorious, and hopefully think of visiting it.

Posted by: humilityjoy | September 1, 2014

“Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

I liked this poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes… although it is a bit bitter, it is a mother advising her son on life.  Enjoy!

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Mother to Son

 Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So, boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps.
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Langston Hughes

 

Posted by: humilityjoy | August 27, 2014

Adinkra Symbols and the Rich Akan Culture

Adinkra in 1817

Adinkra in 1817

Today, we will talk about Adinkra symbols of the Akan people of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The Adinkra symbols are believed to originate in Gyaman, a former kingdom in modern day Côte d’Ivoire.  According to an Ashanti (Asante) legend, Adinkra was the name of a king of the Gyaman kingdom, Nana Kofi Adinkra.  King Adinkra was defeated and captured in a battle.  According to the legend, Nana Adinkra wore patterned cloth, which was interpreted as a way of expressing his sorrow on being taken to Kumasi, the capital of Asante.  He was finally killed and his territory was annexed to the kingdom of Asante.  The Asante people, around the 19th century, took to painting of traditional symbols of the Gyamans onto cloth, a tradition which has remained to this day.

Adinkra work, 1825

Adinkra work, 1825

The arrival of the adinkra in Akan culture seems to date as far back as 1817, when the English T.E. Bowdich collected a piece of adinkra cotton cloth from the city of Kumasi.  The patterns on it were printed using carved calabash stamps and a vegetable-based dye.  The cloth featured fifteen stamped symbols, including nsroma (stars), dono ntoasuo (double Dono drums), and diamonds, and is currently hosted at the British Museum in London.

Sankofa symbol

Sankofa symbol

Adinkra symbols are visual representation of concepts and aphorism developed by the Akan people of Ghana.  Adinkra symbols are extensively used in fabrics, pottery, logos, and advertising.  They can also be found on architectural buildings, as well as on traditional Akan gold weights, and sculptures as well as stools used for traditional rituals.  The adinkra symbols are not just decorative objects, or drawings, but actual messages conveying ancient traditional wisdom relevant to aspects of life or the environment.  A lot of the Adinkra symbols have meanings linked to proverbs, such as the sankofa symbol.  Sankofa, in the Twi language, translates in English to ” reach back and get it” (santo return; koto go; fato look, to seek and take) or the Adinkra symbol of a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back, or of a stylised heart shape.  It is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”  Other Adinkra symbols depict historical events, human behavior and attitudes, animal behavior, plant life, and objects’ shapes.

Adinkra means ‘goodbye’ or ‘farewell’ in the Twi language of the Akan ethnic group, to which the Asante belong.  No wonder the Akan people, and particularly the Asante, wore clothes decorated with Adinkra symbols mostly for funerals as a way to show their sorrow, and to bid farewell to the deceased.

Some Adinkra symbols

Some Adinkra symbols

Adinkra cloths were traditionally only worn by royalty and spiritual leaders for funerals and special occasions.  They were also hand printed on undyed, red, dark brown, or black hand-woven cotton fabric depending on the occasion and the wearer’s status.  Today, adinkra is worn by anyone, women, men or children, and it is frequently mass-produced on brighter colored fabrics.  The 3 most important funerary Adinkra are: the dark – brown (kuntunkuni), the brick – red (kobene), and the black (brisi).  There are however, other forms of which cannot be properly called mourning cloth. Their bright and light backgrounds classify them as Kwasiada Adinkra or Sunday Adinkra meaning fancy clothes which cannot be suitable for funerary contents but appropriate for most festive occasions or even daily wear.

Adinkra symbols and their meaning

Adinkra symbols and their meaning

The center of traditional production of adinkra cloth is Ntonso, 20 km northwest of Kumasi, the city where the Englishman was first given it in 1817.  Dark Adinkra aduro pigment for the stamping is made in Ntonso, by soaking, pulverizing, and boiling the inner bark and roots of the badie tree (Bridelia ferruginea) in water over a wood fire.  Once the dark color is released, the mixture is strained, and then boiled for several more hours until it thickens.  The stamps are carved out of the bottom of a calabash piece, and measure on average 5 to 8 cm2.

Enjoy the video below on Adinkra, and the articles on HartCottageQuilts.com, Adinkra in Ntonso with gorgeous images of the process of making Adinkra stamps and clothes, and lastly GhanaCulture.

Le Baobab / The baobab tree

Le Baobab / The baobab tree

Coupes-tu l’arbre qui t’a sauvé le jour ou tu as fui le buffle? (Proverbe Bambala – République Démocratique du Congo (RDC)).

Do you cut the tree that saved you the day you were running away from the buffalo? (Bambala proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)).

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