DYNAMIC AFRICA

Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is diverse multi-media curated blog with a Pan-African outlook that seeks to create an expressive platform for African experiences, stories and African cultures.



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Watching the “The Last Battle” was not easy. Not simply because it is the telling of actual events, that are still ongoing, that were horrific in nature, but because this gross miscarriage in justice reveals the brutal extent that man’s inhumanity to man can - and has - manifested itself through the that is coloniliasm.

This fight for justice in the ways in which the victims define it lays out a fact that so many of us are aware of - colonialism never really ended, and for as long as we stay silent about our pain, or silence those who still bear the marks of this gruesome period in our history, we malignantly assist those who are responsible for this in leaving the scars of the victims forcibly open and lacing them with the salt of inhumanity and immorality.

Filmed on two continents over four years, The Last Battle traces the story of a small group of elderly Kenyans in their successful fight to win acknowledgement of the abuses suffered at the hands of the British colonial authorities at the height of the 1950s Mau Mau emergency. 
With intimate and disturbing interviews, observational footage, photographs and archive, this revelatory and compelling documentary follows the legal case in London and lays bare a history that was deliberately hidden, allowing the central protagonists to tell the world, for the first time, their stories and what happened to them.
- Kevin Kriedemann

tw: mentions of torture, violence.

Ousmane Sow, a 78-year-old sculptor from Senegal, has made history this year by becoming the first African ever to join France’s Academy of Fine Arts (Academie des Beaux-Arts Paris)

Renowned for his larger-than-life clay sculptures of various subjects ranging from various ethnic groups such as Nouba wrestlers, Peulh, Masai and Zulu peoples, to political figures such as anti-apartheid South African figure Nelson Mandela, revolutionary Haitian independence hero François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture and even French statesman Charles de Gaulle, Sow’s distinct and poignant style of work has led to him become one of the continent’s most well-known and sought after artists. 

557 plays

As we commemorate and celebrate what would have been the 67th birthday of South African anti-apartheid human rights activist and Black Consciousness leader and founder Steve Biko, we’re putting a focus on his ideals and objectives by listening to this rare interview with Biko that took place shortly before he was assassinated by apartheid police in 1977.

In this crucial and definitive exchange between interviewer and interviewee, Biko clearly outlines and defines what the foundation of Black Consciousness is, the importance of socialism, wealth distribution and its relationship to the distribution of wealth in the country, the argument of human rights vs minority, what non-racialism means in this context, and reorganizing the mentality of a broken society.

He also touches on his stance concerning non-violence activism, what the oppressors fear most about the oppressed - their vengeance, the unfoundedness of racist logic, and makes an eerie prediction on the handing over of power to ‘black faces’ operating within the realm of a petty bourgeoisie sector that are puppets of progress. 

Between 1939 and 1946, Fatima Massaquoi penned one of the earliest known autobiographies by an African woman. But few outside of Liberian circles were aware of it until this week, when Palgrave McMillian published The Autobiography of an African Princess, edited by two historians and the author’s daughter.

The book follows Massaquoi, born the daughter of the King of Gallinas of Southern Sierra Leone in 1904, to Liberia, Nazi Germany and the segregated American South, where she wrote her memoirs while enrolled at Tennessee’s Fisk University.

She died in 1978, and her story could have died with her.

schomburgcenter:

On November 20, 1695, Zumbi, leader of the Afro-Brazilian Quilombo dos Palmares, a maroon settlement, was killed in ambush.

A Quilombo was a free settlement of escaped slaves, and it sustained itself by sabotaging plantations or capturing slaves and forcing them to join. Quilombo Dos Palmares was a self-sustaining settlement in Brazil which, at its peak, had approximately 30,000 members. Zumbi was the last of its leaders and fought the Portuguese military with enough prowess to elude them for two years after Dos Palmeres was taken over.

The Portuguese feared Zumbi not only as a physical threat (he was a descendent of Angolan Imbangala warriors, and was believed to be immortal), but also as a leader who could undoubtedly inspire slaves and runaways alike to fight for their freedom.

He is a symbol of resistance against all the madness of New World dominance: slavery, colonial exploitation, and domination. He fought for freedom in the 17th century, was a hero for the 20th century Afro-Brazilian political movement, and still inspires today.

Photo Credit: Gonzalo Rivero

Combining logographic and alphabetic elements, hieroglyphics was the writing system used by the Ancient Egyptians, between 3200 BC – AD 400, that can be found on various media such as pyramid walls and clay tablets, to wooden objects, clay sculptures and papyrus scrolls.

Hieroglyphs can be recognized as three kinds of glyphs: phonetic glyphs, including single-consonant characters that function like an alphabet; logographs, representing morphemes; and determinatives, which narrow down the meaning of logographic or phonetic words.

Despite great efforts by mostly Western historians, “no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.”

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous objects that contains script written (partially) in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and it has provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

(source)

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

Ifè Art in Ancient Nigeria

Made from terracotta, bronze, and stone, and dating between approximately 1000 - 1500 A.D., these highly valued pieces of intricately constructed artwork are examples of pre-colonial art originating from the Yoruba people of Ilé-Ifè in southwestern Nigeria.

Ranging from life-size busts to full-length full-body sculptures, as well as animals, these objects are considered examples of realism for their naturalistic and human-like appearances, and most often depict people who made up the elite and ruling class during this time. As people of importance, the large busts made in the likeness of the rulers of Ilé-Ifè were often depicted with large heads because the artists believed that the Ase - the inner power and energy - of a person was held in the head. Rulers were also often depicted with their mouths covered so the “power of their speech would not be too great”. Individual people were not idealized, but rather the office of the king.

In Yoruba tradition, women occupied the position of clay workers whilst traditionally the sculptors of stone, metal, and wood. Involving both terracotta and metalworking, the production of bronze cast works may have been collaborative efforts.

Nigerian literary philosopher, author, poet and playwright Yemi D. Prince, who specializes in Yoruba history, claimed in his book, “The Oral Traditions in Ile-Ife,” that the terracotta artists of 900 A.D. were the founders of Art Guilds - cultural schools of philosophy, which today can be likened to many of Europe’s old institutions of learning that were originally established as religious bodies. These guilds could very well be some of the oldest non-Abrahamic African centres of learning to remain as viable entities in the contemporary world.

Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, an exhibition that is co-organized by the Museum for African Art, New York, and Fundacion Botin, Santander, Spain, in collaboration with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria, is currently on view in Stockholm, Sweden.

(sources: 1, 2, 3)

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

A Zulu man pulls his employer in a pedicab in Durban, South Africa.
Photograph by Melville Chater, National Geographic
October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

A Zulu man pulls his employer in a pedicab in Durban, South Africa.

Photograph by Melville Chater, National Geographic

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

Dating as far back as the 11th century, the Chouara Tannery in Fez, Morocco is the oldest tannery in the world. Very little has changed in this historic site since then with much of the process of turning animal hides into usable leather, by washing, treating, smoothing, and coloring them, remaining the same. In this particular mode of tanning, the occupation of a tanner is considered one of the hardest, tiring and labour-intensive professions.

Using mainly sheep skin, goat skin, camel skin, and cow skin - goat and camel being the best quality - the tanning process is a lengthy one that requires great care and patience. Once the animal skins have been gathered, they are soaked in vasts that contain a mixture of cow urine, quicklime, water, and salt for up to three days, helping to loosen excess fat, flesh, and hair that remain on the skins.

Once cleaned, the skins are then laid out to dry on surrounding rooftops. When the skins are dry, they are washed and soaked in a mixture of water and pigeon stool making them supple and soft. Pigeon stool contains ammonia that acts as a softening agent, making the skin more malleable, and also loosens the animal hair from the skin. The tanner then uses their bare feet to knead the skins for up to three hours to achieve the desired softness.

Once optimum softness is achieved, the skins are then dyed using natural colorants such as poppy flower (red), indigo (blue), henna (orange), cedar wood (brown), mint (green), and saffron (yellow).

The skins are once again dried after which they are cut and sold for use for products such as bags and shoes.

(sources 1; 2)

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

Between 10,000 – 20,000 people disappeared in Algeria in the decade following the cancellation of the general election of 1992.

On opening this book, page upon page of faces introduce the reader to this national tragedy. Using the testimony of the families of some of those who have disappeared, Omar D’s photographs present the places where events occurred, their relationship to the surrounding urban and rural landscapes and the lives of those who have been affected.

A striking and forceful body of work, compiled during a single winter as a commission by Autograph ABP, his images tell the story of a practice that has become widespread throughout the world.

Omar D is known for his intimate portraits of a way of life fast disappearing in Algeria, recently exhibited as part of Africa Remix in London, Düsseldorf, Paris and Tokyo and Snap Judgments at ICP, New York.

(sources 1; 2)

Artistic depictions of women in Ancient Egypt

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

(images via pharahoe)

(via shontay91-deactivated20140311)

But despite Hollywood’s near-complete refusal to acknowledge it, ancient Rome was the original melting pot. See, back then, color and prejudice weren’t linked — unlike racism and stupidity today. Rome even had at least two African emperors, Severus and Macrinus. Rome was unique in the ancient world for its inclusive citizenship. In the past, a city-state like Sparta might have conquered a people and enslaved or slaughtered them all. Rome, on the other hand, blew ancient people’s minds by assimilating or even naturalizing the conquered. The ancient Romans didn’t even force conquered peoples to give up their own languages or customs.

The important thing for the Romans was that people followed the law, paid taxes, and, oh yeah, fought in the Roman army. The Romans were no dummies: Little old Rome was never going to be able to populate the world it conquered, let alone defend it, so absorbing other peoples like a giant legionary sponge was the only way to keep enough bodies in the military and on its farms. Rome enrolled northwest Africans, Moors, Gauls, Celts, Jews — pretty much anyone who could swing a sword or throw a spear — which is how an Ethiopian soldier could find himself fighting in Britain (maybe that’s why every film Roman speaks with a British accent).

There are no exact numbers on ancient Roman diversity, but given Rome’s constant contact with Africa and the Near East, the coliseum we asked you to imagine earlier should look more like Ellis Island and less like a Dave Matthews Band concert.

5 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About Ancient Civilizations (via sumayyahdaud)

Although this link it to a Cracked article, all citations are academic sources.

Every link is to a PDF textbook. :) In fact, a lot of Cracked’s historical articles are quite well-sourced.

(via medievalpoc)

(via medievalpoc)

nohmtema:

Young Sudanese woman in front of pyramids and tombs, of the royal cemetery of Meroe, Sudan. Many Sudanese people often visit the pyramids during the week-end. 

Photo by Eric Lafforgue.

(via atane)

Postage stamps commemorating the controversial independence of the Transkei region of South Africa in 1976.

The Transkei was made nominally independent in 1976 in order to serve as a legal homeland for millions of Xhosa-speaking black people who had lost their South African citizenship under the apartheid system of racial separation. However, upon the creation of a (nominally) independent Transkei in 1976, all black South Africans with language ties to Transkei (whether or not they lived there) lost their South African citizenship and became citizens of the new country. As a result, 1.6 million Xhosas living in the Transkei and a further 1.3 million non-Ciskei Xhosas living in South Africa lost their South African citizenship - something they had no say in as under the apartheid system, both racial and ethnic classification was ultimately decided upon by the apartheid government. Dual citizenship at birth was not permitted, and renunciation of one’s citizenship was legally possible, but rendered the individual stateless in most cases.

The Organization of African Unity urged the world to shun Transkei on the grounds that recognition would constitute acceptance of apartheid, and the United Nations supported its view.

On October 26th, 1976, the Transkei - a Xhosa region (known then as a Bantustan) that lay between Natal and the Kei River in the Eastern Cape - gained complete independence as an autonomous republic under the policy of separate development. South African prime minister B. J. Vorster justified the declaration of Transkei as an independent republic by referring to “the right of every people to have full control over its own affairs” and wished “Transkei and its leaders God’s richest blessings on the road ahead.” A press release by the African National Congress at the time rejected the Transkei’s independence and condemned it as “designed to consolidate the inhuman policies of apartheid”.

Furthermore, the Transkei could never be an economically self-sufficient nation as it would be financially dependent on the white South African government , and the majority of its citizens would have to migrate into South Africa to find work.

At its opening session the Transkei National Assembly elected Paramount Chief Botha J. Sigcau as the Transkei’s first President and Kaizer Matanzima as Prime Minister. The new republic did not incorporate the apartheid ideology into its constitution, but became a multiracial state in which all citizens had the franchise.

The Republic of Transkei was not recognised beyond South African borders. The General Assembly of the United Nations rejected the declaration of independence as invalid, and called upon all governments to deny any form of recognition of the Transkei and other Bantustans as a direct result of the ANC’s condemnation of the state as a means to reaffirm apartheid policies of separate development.

In 1994, following the dismantling of the apartheid regime, the Transkei was incorporated into the Eastern Cape province.

(sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Worn mostly by women in the East Africa - mostly Tanzania (including Zanzibar) and Kenya, these large rectangular colourfully-designed cloths, called kangas, are a staple garment for many, mostly in the rural parts of these areas, but are also worn usually by older women in more urban areas.

Having their origins in the 19th century when Swahili-speaking women living along the cost, intrigued by the cotton shawls worn by the Portuguese who controlled the Zanzibar coastline, started buying them in bundles of six and stitched them together in two lengths of three and made them into dresses, kangas have developed into a highly important social aspect of life for many in this part of East Africa.

In the early 20th century, the most noted features of kangas were added when a trader in Mombasa named Kaderdina ‘Abdulla’ Hajee Essak started accenting his kanga cloths with proverbs. Nowadays, most kangas are embedded with a message - often in Swahili - of some sort ranging from political to personal.

Most recently, labels like the London-based British-Tanzanian fashion line Chichia London have begun incorporating kangas in their designs, creating western-inspired garments with a heavy East African touch.

(source)

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists