Afro Hair: Crown Jewel of African Women and Men

Nok sculpture of a woman
Nok sculpture of a woman
Have you ever looked at sculptures of women from the Nok civilization? Then you have probably noticed that Nok women wore their hair braided similar to the Fulani women of today, in beautiful goddess braids, and amazing styles. Ever looked at images of Queen Nzingha? She wore her hair in Afro, fully out.
Queen Nzingha of Angola
Queen Nzingha of Angola
What about the great Amanishakheto of Nubia, well, hieroglyphs at Meroë, show her sporting a gorgeous ‘Fro. And the fierce amazons of King Behanzin wore either braids, or shaved their heads, or sported afros. Today the tradition persists: the Himba women of Namibia and Angola wear dreadlocks decorated with red ochre, while Maasai women shave their heads and Maasai men sport dreadlocks. For their wedding, the Wodaabe women wear amazing braids decorated with cauris, and jewelry. In our culture, there were intricate hairstyles for different occasions: passage of a girl into womanhood, courting, weddings, funerals, etc.
Himba women (absoluteafrica.com)
Himba women (absoluteafrica.com)
Isn’t it amazing how our crown jewel, our hair, can be worn in so many different ways? Isn’t it amazing that one could change hairstyle every two-three weeks, or even
Fulani woman (Wodaabe)
Fulani woman (Wodaabe)
every month? After all, nature gifted the African race with a lion’s mane, which can be dressed a thousand ways, why not take advantage of it? Nigerian photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere captured some of these different hairstyles from women in the 1960-70s. Many African women from the 1960s-70s can be seen wearing tresses; and if you ever dig up pictures of your parents, you will see your mothers wearing those as well. His collections and books are amazing. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 2015!

Fireworks
Fireworks

Precious readers, may the year 2015 be the year of all great conquests, achievements, success, and greatness. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who visited my blog, and to all future visitors. 2014 was a beautiful year: the number of subscribers on Afrolegends.com has tripled, the number of visitors on the blog has doubled, the article Burkina Faso was cited by TIME Magazine online, while the article La SAPE was cited by The Guardian, and many articles were reblogged on multiple sites. For 2015, I wish you wonders without borders, peace, grace, and love.

Happy 2015 (Illustration by Osee Tueam, for Dr. Y, Afrolegends.com)
Happy 2015 (Illustration by Osee Tueam, for Dr. Y, Afrolegends.com)

Here were the top posts of 2014. Keep trusting, reading, sharing, and liking.

1. Samori Toure: African leader and Resistant to French Imperialism
2. ‘Love Poem for My Country’ by Sandile Dikeni
3. ‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe
4. ‘Femme Noire/Black Woman’ by Leopold Sedar Senghor
5. The Ishango Bone: Craddle of Ancient Mathematics

‘Beautiful Black Woman’ by Vernon J. Davis Jr.

Le soleil / The sun
Le soleil / The sun

I just stumbled upon this poem by Vernon J. Davis Jr., and wanted to share with all.  It is an ode to the beauty of the black woman; I love the comparison to the shining sun.  Enjoy!

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Beautiful black woman,

Your beauty is surpassed by none.

 Beautiful black woman,

Your sensuous splendor is like the shining sun

Your wondrous ways come from your soul

Which no one man may hope to control

Beautiful black woman,

You are the guiding hope of our people

Beautiful black woman,

your mind maintains your glorious power.

Beautiful black woman,

Your spirit is like a shining church tower

which points the way to heaven above

and which seeks to find true love.

Beautiful black woman,

you are the guiding hope of our people.

Beautiful Black woman,

Your time is like a precious commodity.

Beautiful Black Woman,

Your ebony will is strong and free,

so take your precious time,

and your determined will,

and use them both to emphasize what you really feel.

Beautiful black woman,

you are the guiding hope of our people.

Beautiful black woman,

In you lies our future!

Vernon J. Davis Jr.

‘Poetry’ by Amilcar Cabral

Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau
Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau

January 20th, is the day of Amilcar Cabral, the father of Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau independence was murdered.  I would like to celebrate this day of remembrance with a poem written by Amilcar Cabral himself.  He used to sign his poem by the name Larbac, which is an anagram of his last name Cabral.  The current poem is attributed to him… I was unable to find the Portuguese version.  Enjoy this poem by one of Africa’s greatest sons.

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… No, Poetry …
Do not hide within the inscrutability of my soul
Do not run away from life itself.
Break the invisible bars of my prison,
Open wide the doors of my being
– Come out…
Come out to struggle (life is a struggle)
The men outside call for you,
And you, Poetry, you are also a Man.
Love everyone’s poetry,
– Love Men
Let your poems flow to every race, to all things.
Merge with me …
Oh Poetry,
Take my arms to embrace the World,
Give me your arms to embrace Life
I am my own Poetry.
Amilcar Cabral Poem, 1946

“Ôde à la Guinée” de Aimé Césaire

Aimé Césaire
Aimé Césaire

Aimé Césaire, le grand écrivain et poète Martiniquais, présente ici son Ôde à la Guinée… ce chant qui s’élève et embrasse la Guinée, ce pays si cher qui était le premier en Afrique francophone à reclamer son indépendance à la France, ce pays-là qui nous a montré à tous Africains, que comme disait si bien Sékou Touré: ‘nous préférons la pauvreté dans la dignité à l’oppulence dans l’esclavage.‘ C’est bien pour cela que Aimé Césaire a chanté pour la Guinée!

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Ôde à la Guinée

Et par le soleil installant sous ma peau une usine de force et d’aigles
et par le vent sur ma force de dent de sel compliquant ses passes les mieux sues
et par le noir le long de mes muscles en douces insolences de sèves montant
et par la femme couchée comme une montagne descellée et sucée par les lianes
et par la femme au cadastre mal connu où le jour et la nuit jouent à la mourre des eaux de sources et des métaux rares
et par le feu de la femme où je cherche le chemin des fougères et du Fouta-Djallon
et par la femme fermée sur la nostalgie s’ouvrant
JE TE SALUE
Guinée dont les pluies fracassent du haut grumeleux
des volcans un sacrifice de vaches pour mille faims
et soifs d’enfants dénaturés
Guinée de ton cri de ta main de ta patience
il nous reste toujours des terres arbitraires
et quand tué vers Ophir ils m’auront jamais muet
de mes dents de ma peau que l’on fasse
un fétiche féroce gardien du mauvais oeil
comme m’ébranle me frappe et me dévore ton solstice
en chacun de tes pas Guinée
muette en moi-même d’une profondeur astrale de méduses.

Aimé Césaire

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Guinea-Conakry
Guinea-Conakry

Ode to Guinea” by Aimé Césaire

And by the sun installing a power and eagle fac­tory under my skin
and by the wind elab­o­rat­ing the passes it knows best over my power of tooth of salt
and by the black ris­ing along my mus­cles in sweet sap-like effron­ter­ies
and by the woman stretched out like a moun­tain unsealed and sucked by lianas
the woman with the lit­tle known cadas­tre where day and night play mora for spring­head waters and
rare met­als
and by the fire of the woman in which I look for the path to ferns and to Fouta Jal­lon
and by the closed woman open­ing on nostalgia

I HAIL YOU

Guinea whose rains from the cur­dled height of vol­ca­noes shat­ter a sac­ri­fice of cows for a thou­sand
hungers and thirsts of dena­tured chil­dren
Guinea from your cry from your hand from your patience
we still have some arbi­trary lands
and when they have me, killed in Ophir per­haps and silenced for good,
out of my teeth out of my skin let the make
a fetish a fero­cious guardian against the evil eye
as your sol­stice shakes me strikes me and devours me
at each one of your steps Guinea
silenced in myself with the astral depth of medusas

from The Col­lected Poetry of Aimé Césaire, trans­later by Clay­ton Esh­le­man and Annette Smith.

‘African Woman’ by Swabi Mnisi

A true African beauty: Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba
A true African beauty: Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba

I stumbled across this poem which praises the African beauty, that of: our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, and our wives.  It is true that the African standard of beauty has now become the world standard of beauty.  Women around the world want to have lips like Angelina Jolie, when we, Africans were blessed with real luscious lips.  Western media emphasize J-Lo‘s big butt, when the African woman was naturally born bootylicious.  Men love women with nice curves like Halle Berry … well, I guess God was truly showing off when He created the Black woman.  Enjoy ‘African Woman’ by Swabi Mnisi.

You, with big butt and small waist
Those goodies wrapped in unequalled curves
Fat lips that produce a mouth watering kiss
With that black face and woolly hair
You are my African queen

The she-hero, Saartjie Bartman stood her ground
In the mist of derogation, she remained proud
Her bums defied western notions
Big became beautiful and Africa a fishing pond
Thanks to the African queen

Africa is blessed to have you, don’t disappoint
You are the only species with big booty
The only one with resilient black skin
So please do not bleach, you are a queen

by Swabi Mnisi

‘Love Poem for my Country’ by Sandile Dikeni

An antelope at dusk
An antelope at dusk in the African Savannah

In the past I have always wished that we, Africans, could be patriotic.  I came across this beautiful poem ‘Love poem for my country‘ by South African writer Sandile Dikeni.  I really enjoy the way the author describes his country, the valleys, the birds, the ancient rivers, and its beauty.  He feels the peace, the wealth, and the health his country brings.  He is one with his country.  He is at home!  His country is not just words or food, or friends, or family, it is more, it is his essence!  That is true patriotism, the bond that links us to the bone to our motherland.  Enjoy!

My country is for love
so say its valleys
where ancient rivers flow
the full circle of life
under the proud eye of birds
adorning the sky.

My country is for peace
so says the veld
where reptiles caress
its surface
with elegant motions
glittering in their pride

My country
is for joy
so talk the mountains
with baboons
hopping from boulder to boulder
in the majestic delight
of cliffs and peaks

My country
is for health and wealth
see the blue of the sea
and beneath
the jewels of fish
deep under the bowels of soil
hear
the golden voice
of a miner’s praise
for my country

My country
is for unity
feel the millions
see their passion
their hands are joined together
there is hope in their eyes

we shall celebrate

by Sandile Dikeni

‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l'Afrique à la Conférence de Berlin de 1884

As we talk about neo-colonialism, and the new conquest of Africa, I thought about sharing this poem ‘They Came‘ by the Cameroonian writer François Sengat-Kuo published in Fleurs de Latérite, Heures Rouges Éditions Clé, 1971.  In the poem, he talks about colonization and how Africans were fooled by European missionaries who were always preceding European explorers and armies.  I particularly like the sentence: “they came, … bible on hand, guns behind.”  How true! In the days of colonization, Europeans claimed to be bringing civilization and christianity to pagans across the globe.  Today, they bring development, globalization, and democracy…  same ol’ thing → submission and slavery of the people.  Enjoy!

Ils sont venus

au clair de lune

au rythme du tam-tam

ce soir-là comme toujours

l’on dansait

l’on riait

brillant avenir

ils sont venus

civilisation

bibles sous le bras

fusils en mains

les morts se sont entassés

l’on a pleuré

et le tam-tam s’est tu

silence profond comme la mort

 

They came

by the light of the moon

to the rhythm of the tam-tam

that night as always

we were dancing

we were laughing

brilliant future

they came

civilization

bibles under the arm

guns in hand

the dead bodies piled up

we cried

and the tam-tam was silenced

profound silence like death