milk_3Même la nuit le lait est blanc (Proverbe Bornu – Tchad).

Even at night, the milk is white (Bornu proverb – Chad).

Posted by: Dr. Y. | March 18, 2019

Queen Amina of Zazzau: Woman As Capable as a Man

Queen Amina_1

Queen Amina of Zazzau

A few years ago, I wrote about Queen Amina of Zazzau: the Great Hausa Warrior born to Rule, the woman remembered today in Nigeria as  ‘Amina, rana de Yar Bakwa ta San’ (Amina, daughter of Nikatau, woman as capable as a man). Crowned queen of Zazzau in 1576, Amina expanded her kingdom’s boundaries down to the Atlantic coast; she founded several cities, and personally led an army of 20,000 soldiers to numerous battles. During her 34-year reign, she commanded the construction of a defensive mural around each military camp that she established.  Later, those camps evolved into prosperous cities within those walls, and some can still be seen today in northern Nigeria.  Those cities are known as walls ‘ganuwar of Amina’ or ‘Amina’s walls‘.

Queen Amina’s achievement was the closest that any ruler had come in bringing the region now known as Nigeria under a single authority. Enjoy this trailer for the movie Amina by Izu Ojukwu and the website for it: AminaQueenOfZazzau.com; the BBC also made a cartoon about her. With Hollywood’s recent lack of imagination and appropriation of other people’s culture, I would not be surprised that they copy her story to bring it onto big screen. However, Africans should put forward their own stories and value them… not wait for some imagination-hungry entity to come grab it, to all of a sudden value their own history (Black Panther).

Posted by: Dr. Y. | March 15, 2019

Germany Returns Skulls of Namibians Genocide Victims

Herero

Survivors of the Herero and Namaqua genocide

I know this dates from last August, 2018, but I had to share. Note that out of the hundreds of skulls taken by Germany, only a bit over 25 were returned; if the German racial study has been discredited, why not return all of them? The excerpt below is from the BBC; for the full article, go to the BBC. As a reminder, the first genocide of the 20th century occurred in Namibia, on African soil. It was perpetrated by Germans on the Herero and Nama people of Namibia. It was extremely brutal and almost wiped out all Herero people. It was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It took place between 1904 and 1907 during the Herero Wars. Today it is known as the Namibian genocide or the Herero and Namaqua genocide.

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Namibia_Skulls

Namibian skulls (Reuters)

Germany has handed back the human remains of indigenous people killed during a genocide in colonial Namibia (German South-West Africa) more than 100 years ago.

… The bones had been sent to Germany for now-discredited research to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans. 

Tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people were murdered in response to an anti-colonial uprising.

Their descendants are still waiting for an apology from the German government.

The genocide began in 1904 after a Herero and Nama rebellion in response to the German expropriation of their land and cattle.

The head of the military administration in what was then known as German South West Africa, Lothar von Trotha, issued an extermination order in October 1904.

Herero_chained

Chained Herero men

The Herero and Nama were forced into the desert and any who were found trying to return to their land were either killed or put into concentration camps.

There is no agreed figure of how many died but some estimates have put it as high as 100,000.

It is thought that 75% of the Herero population and half of the Nama population died.

… There are thought to be hundreds of Namibian skulls in Germany and on Wednesday more than 25 remains were handed back.

Skulls from Germany’s other African colonies, including modern day Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda and Togo, were also used in the discredited studies.

In 2016, Germany said it was prepared to apologize in principle but it is still negotiating with the Namibian government over the form of the apology and how to deal with the legacy of the genocide. [Funny how, when it was time to kill, they never negotiated]

Namibia_Hendrik Witbooi

Hendrik Witbooi, Namaqua Chief and freedom fighter

… Germany has argued that it has given Namibia millions of dollars in development aid to support all people in the country. [They forget to tell you that they are still benefiting from the mines and resources of Namibia]

… But descendants of the victims are angry that there has been no apology and no agreement of reparations. They are also unhappy that they are not part of the negotiations. …

Les lignes de la main

Les lignes de la main / The Lines of the hand

Les lignes de nos mains sont des lignes de Vie, de Destin, de Coeur, d’Amour. De douces chaînes qui nous lient les uns aux autres, Les vivants aux morts.

The lines of our hands Are life lines Destiny lines, Heart lines, Love lines. Soft chains Which bind us One to the other, The living to the dead.

Bernard Dadié in ‘Les lignes de nos mains’ published in La Ronde des Jours, Edition Pierre Seghers, 1956. The English translation is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com. [Note: punctuation was added to write in one line the first sentence].

Posted by: Dr. Y. | March 12, 2019

So long to an African Literary Genius: Bernard Dadié

Bernard Dadie

Bernard Dadié

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of the great Ivorian writer Bernard Binlin Dadié. Bernard Dadié was a Baobab of African literature, and he was 103 years of age at the time of his passing. On his 100th-year birthday, he had complained of not being able to write as much anymore, given that he still had so much to say! Dadié was a literary virtuoso who brilliantly explored many genres from poetry, to fiction, to theater.

Many have wondered what was the secret of his longevity, and “his children always thought that Dadié was able to surmount all those obstacles and live so long because he was deeply in love with his wife,” said Serge Bilé [« Ses enfants ont toujours pensé qu’il a pu traverser toutes ces épreuves et vivre si longtemps car il était amoureux de sa femme » Jeune Afrique] writer, journalist, and whose mother was a cousin of Assamala Dadié (Dadié’s wife).

Dadié was born in Assinie, Côte d’Ivoire, and attended the local Catholic school in Grand Bassam and then the Ecole William Ponty. He worked for the French government in Dakar, Senegal. Upon returning to his homeland in 1947, he became part of its movement for independence: he denounced colonialism and neo-colonialism. Before Côte d’Ivoire‘s independence in 1960, he was detained for sixteen months for taking part in demonstrations that opposed the French colonial government.

Bernard Dadie_Climbie

Climbié by Bernard Dadié

Climbié, his most well-known novel was published in 1956, and was the first Ivorian fiction. With his theater piece The cities (Les Villes), played in Abidjan in April 1934, Dadié gave Francophone Africa its first drama piece. I am sure there were others played in the olden ancestral days, but this was the first one written in  Molière’s language. He was also the first to win the great literary price of Black Africa (le grand prix littéraire de l’Afrique noire) twice in 1965 with Boss of New York (Patron de New York, Présence Africaine, 1964), and The City where No One Dies (La Ville où nul ne meurt, Présence Africaine, 1969) in 1968. His other big novels are:  Le Pagne noir – Contes africains (1955), Un Nègre à Paris (Présence Africaine, 1959), Les voix dans le vent (1970), Monsieur Thôgô-Gnini (1970) ou les poèmes du recueil La rondes des jours (1956). In recent years, his poem “Dry Your Tears Afrika” (“Seche Tes Pleurs” de Bernard Binlin Dadié / “Dry your Tears Afrika” by Bernard B. Dadié) was set to music by American composer John Williams for the Steven Spielberg movie Amistad. Lastly, a street bears his name in Abidjan.

Bernard Dadie_Le Pagne noir

Le Pagne Noir – Contes Africains by Bernard Dadié

Among many other senior positions, starting in 1957, he held the post of Minister of Culture in the government of Côte d’Ivoire from 1977 to 1986. As a twist on fate, next week will come out in Côte d’Ivoire, a book titled 100 writers pay tribute to Dadié (100 écrivains rendent hommage à Dadié) in the Éburnie éditions. Bernard Dadié is the symbol of Côte d’Ivoire‘s deep and rich culture, marking a literary resistance to colonialism and neo-colonialism, and a strong love for his people, continent, and race

I live you here with the link to his poem “I Thank you God” which we had published a while back: “Je vous Remercie Mon Dieu” de Bernard B. Dadie / “I Thank You God” from Bernard Binlin Dadie. Yes, we thank God for his son Bernard Dadié who has graced this earth and shown us the way, revived our pride, and dried our tears (“Seche Tes Pleurs” de Bernard Binlin Dadié / “Dry your Tears Afrika” by Bernard B. Dadié). I would like to tell all those who mourn him, that the fierce spirit of Bernard Dadié lives on, and we are his legacy which we should uphold.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | March 8, 2019

Proverbe Mossi sur le travail /Mossi Proverb on Work

Champ

Un Champ / A Field

Ce qui est dur est bon; le facile n’a pas de profit (Proverbe Mossi, Burkina Faso). – Même si le sol n’est pas fertile, il faut travailler dur.

That which is hard is good; whatever is easy brings no benefit (Mossi proverb, Burkina Faso). – Even if the soil is not fertile, you have to work hard.

 

 

Tewodros_II_-_2

Emperor Tewodros II

Last week we talked about Germany returning artifacts stolen from a Namibian freedom fighter back to Namibia. This week, it is the UK which have decided to return the stolen hair of Emperor Tewodros II back to Ethiopia. I hope the Ethiopian government will not just take it at face value, but perform some DNA test of this hair to ensure that it is indeed that of Emperor Tewodros II (Looted Ethiopian Treasures in UK could be returned on Loan). The thing that bothered me about the article below, is that these museums say that they will return stolen artifacts only based on official specific written requests: most of the times when the British looted the different kingdoms, Benin City (Benin City: the Majestic City the British burnt to the ground) in Nigeria or Maqdala in Ethiopia, there were no survivors or very few among the locals. In the case of Maqdala in 1868, it is said that 15 elephants and 200 mules were needed to cart away all the loot from Maqdala.How could anyone have an inventory of all the things they stole? This is just another way of keeping all the loot, and never returning it to their rightful owners. Below are parts of the article; for the full article, go to  The BBC:

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Ethiopia_Crown looted

A crown from the Maqdala exhibition at the V&A in south-west London – looted in 1868. (Source: V&A Museum)

A British museum [National Army Museum] is to return a lock of hair that the Ethiopian government considers a national treasure.

It was cut from the head of Emperor Tewodros II, who killed himself rather than be taken prisoner by the British during their 1868 invasion of Ethiopia. …

Strands of Emperor Tewodros II’s hair were given to the National Army Museum in London 60 years ago. …

The museum told the BBC it had decided not to make photographs of the hair public out of respect, because the matter was “too sensitive”. The remains are described as two pieces “no bigger than the size of a two-pence coin”.

Tewodros II_Departure of British expeditionary force from Magdala 1868

Departure of the British expeditionary forces from Maqdala with the loot – Illustrated London News 1868

The National Army Museum has now agreed to return the artefact, but says it is not returning any other items of African origin.

It’s definitely not a precedent,” a spokesperson for the museum told the BBC.

That’s the only one that’s been requested. They have to be formal, written requests to the director with a case“. …

The move has reignited demands for the UK to return all the looted artefacts on display in British museums. …

FESPACO 2019_1

FESPACO 2019 (featuring Maimouna N’Diaye – 2015 winner of Best Actress in a leading role)

2019 marks the 50th year anniversary of the FESPACO.  As a reminder, the FESPACO (Festival Panafricain du cinema et de la television de Ouagadougou) is the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, and is the largest African film festival, held biennally in Ouagadougou, the capital of  Burkina Faso. First established in 1969, and boasting some of Africa’s greatest writers and filmmakers (like Ousmane Sembene), the FESPACO offers a chance for African filmmakers and professionals to showcase their work, exchange ideas, and meet other filmmakers, and sponsors. Filmmakers from around the continent come together in Ouagadougou which is transformed into the Hollywood or the Cannes of the continent for this 8-day celebration. This year’s FESPACO ran from February 23 to March 2nd.

Golden Stallion of Yennenga

The Golden Stallion of Yennenga

To mark the 50th-year edition, a particular focus was set on reflecting on the collective memory and future of the pan-African cinema. Films from 16 African countries were vying for the Golden Stallion of Yennenga, a prize named after the story of a 12th century beautiful princess who is considered the mother of the Mossi people, Princess Yennenga.

The Golden Stallion of Yennenga 2019 was awarded to the movie “The Mercy of the Jungle” directed by Joel Karekezi of Rwanda. “The Mercy of the Jungle” shows the arduous road trip taken by foot of two soldiers lost in the jungle during the time of the Democratic Republic of Congo wars. It beat out 19 other candidates to get the Golden Stallion of Yennenga.  Marc Zinga, a Belgian, also took best actor for his role in “The Mercy of the Jungle.”

Rwanda_Joel Karekezi FESPACO 2019

Joel Karekezi, winner of the 2019 Golden Stallion of Yennenga (Fraternite Matin)

Second prize went to “Karma”, a drama by Egyptian director Khaled Youssef, while third place was awarded to Tunisian Ben Hohmound, who directed “Fatwa”, another drama.

This year also, women have complained about the fact that in 50 years, not a single woman has won the top prize at FESPACO. This highlights a problem of gender equality for film directors. South African actress Xolile Tshabalala, who featured in “Miraculous Weapons”, directed by Jean-Pierre Bekolo, a Cameroonian asked, “can it be that in 50 years, there hasn’t been a single woman capable of telling a great story to win the Fespaco?” Burkinabe director Apolline Traore said that any award had to be earned, not considered a token gesture, but admitted that there is a problem in gender equality for directors. “There’s no equality for the craft of a woman director, not just in Africa, but in the world,” she said.  Traore won a special prize on Friday for her film, “Desrances”.

Namibia_Hendrik Witbooi

Chief Hendrik Witbooi

At last, Germany is returning artifacts back to Namibia which it had stolen some 126 years ago from a Namibian freedom fighter, Hendrik Witbooi. This is a good step forward, as they also returned the human remains of people they had killed via committing a genocide, last August. As a flashback, the First Genocide of the 20th Century was committed by Germany on the Nama and Herero people of Namibia. During that time, it is estimated that Germany wiped out at least 75% of the Herero and 50% of the Nama population (the Namibian genocide or the Herero and Namaqua genocide). The skulls and bones of the people they decimated had been sent to Germany to study the racial superiority of Europeans. To that effect, tens of thousands of Nama and Herero people were murdered. There are thought to be hundreds of Namibian skulls in Germany and last August about 25 remains were handed back. Their descendants are still waiting today for an apology from the German government, as well as reparations. Skulls from Germany’s other African colonies, including modern day Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda and Togo, were also used in these now discredited studies.

Below is the article from Artnet News.

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Presentation of cultural objects of robbery

A bible and a whip from the estate of Hendrik Witbooi. (Getty images)

The German city of Stuttgart will return artifacts looted from the country’s colony in what is now Namibia on March 1 during a ceremony with Namibian president Hage Geingob.

German state minister for science Theresia Bauer will travel to Namibia to hand over a whip and bible from the collection of Stuttgart’s Linden Museum that once belonged to Namibian national hero Hendrik Witbooi, a leader in the fight for independence against the German colonizers during the Nama-Herero uprising.

“The restitution of these objects is for us the beginning of a reappraisal of German-Namibian colonial history,” Bauer said in a statement published on the Linden Museum website.

The ceremony is taking place in Witbooi’s hometown of Gibeon, where a museum is being built and will eventually house the items. In the meantime they will be safeguarded by the state. 

Herero_chained

Chained Herero men

German soldiers stole the artifacts during an attack on Witbooi’s stronghold of Hornkranz in 1893. Colonial troops in former German southwestern Africa launched a brutal crackdown on Witbooi’s people after the leader refused to sign a protection treaty to cede territory to the colonizers. In response, German troops ransacked the village, took livestock, burnt huts, and looted possessions.

Both the whip and bible were donated to the Linden Museum in 1902, according to the German art magazine Monopol.

The German imperial empire colonized parts of Namibia from 1884 to 1915. Germany officially [recognized] the Nama-Herero genocide in 2004, in which an estimated 65,000 members of the Nama and Herero tribes were murdered in response to the uprising.

Herero

Survivors of the Herero genocide

In November 2018, the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg said that the German state “is aware of its historical responsibility and is ready to take action. Sending an important message and signaling an important step in the process of reconciliation.”

Today Witbooi is revered as a national hero in Namibia and one of the most important chiefs of the Nama tribes. He is honored by numerous monuments across the country and his portrait is printed on numerous paper bills.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | February 26, 2019

Never Cry Croc

Children_2

4 Children

One day there lived a family with 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy. All the children were good except one – you guessed it was the boy. But he wasn’t just unruly – he was also funny. He wanted to spend the whole day playing jokes on people.

One day the boy was sent to get water from a river that was full of crocodiles. After he had collected his water he put the pot safety on the back. Then he started to call out at the top of his voice, “Help! Help! The crocodiles! The crocodiles!

When they heard his screams, everyone was in a panic. They all came running as fast as they could down to the river bank to help him. When they got there they found him laughing his head off. He’d fooled them all! He thought he was hilarious.

Crocodile_1

Crocodile

Of course everyone was very cross. “You called us for nothing. You interrupted our work for nothing. You stupid, bad boy.

Another day the boy was given the same job to go down to the river to collect water. This time though he really was caught by the leg by a crocodile. He pulled all he could and yelled and screamed – “Help! Help! The crocodile the crocodile!

Everyone in the village heard, and rolled their eyes. “Yeah yeah yeah,” they said. “He does that all the times. Take no notice.” When his screams got really loud and panicky, they all shook their heads. “He doesn’t give up, that boy, does he? But he’s not fooling us twice!

No one realized that they were really listening to the boy being attacked and then eaten by a huge crocodile, until they went down to the riverbank later on and found nothing but a pile of clothes and some bloodied mud.

And what is the moral of the story? Simple: you must never lie. You must always tell the truth. Even when you want to make a joke.

This is a Congolese tale from Melvin Burgess blog.

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