DYNAMIC AFRICA

African-based news, lifestyle & popular culture platform that brings you stories and information concerning Africa and the African diaspora. Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is a rich content-driven creative space with a Pan-African outlook established as an expressive platform for African experiences, African culture and African stories.


Dynamic Africa is a diverse multimedia platform, which curates global ideas, memes, attitudes and other phenomena that shape popular culture, with both a local and global African perspective.




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Posts tagged "tradition"

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

As the top African producer of coffee, and seventh in the world, Ethiopia has a long-standing relationship with the consumption and use of coffee. Ethiopia is home to coffee arabica, a species of coffee indigenous to the country. Considered to be one of the better tasting coffees, it is believed that coffee arabica was the first coffee plant to cultivated and grown in the southwest of the country. It is said that the first instance of the effects of coffee being noticed came about when Ethiopian shepherds in the 9th observed the reaction of their herds after eating the fruit.

Today, one of the ways that Ethiopians (and Eritreans) continue to demonstrate their love of coffee and their historical relationship with the second most traded commodity in the world, after oil, is through what is known to outsiders as a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony or Buna by Ethiopians. Often, this practice takes place in peoples homes and at Ethiopian restaurants which is where I first experienced a Buna, in Addis Ababa.

Conducted entirely by women, the Buna process involves the roasting, grinding and serving of coffee. Washed coffee beans are roasted in a pan, similar to the process of making popcorn. As the aroma of the coffee begins to fill the air, the preparer takes the roasting coffee and walks around letting the fresh scent of the coffee settle around the room.

Once roasted, the coffee is then put in what is called a Mukecha - a tool used for grinding. Another tool, called a zenezena, is used to crush the coffee in a pistil and mortar fashion. Some places will use modern coffee grinders to save time as it can be a slightly laborious and time-consuming task. After the coffee has been crushed, the fresh coffee powder is put into a jebena, a clay pot. Water is added and the mixture is boiled before being ready to be served in small usually white porcelain cups called cinis.

Each serving round of coffee has a name - the first being Abol, second is Huletegna and the third and final round is called Bereka.

Watch an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony take place.

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All Africa, All the time.

nigerianostalgia:

A Yoruba woman weaves native cloth on a traditional hand-loom. The cloth was woven from locally-grown cotton and dyed by local methods.

Before the Second World War, production was steadily declining due to cheap imports from Europe and elsewhere, but wartime restrictions led to a revival in the local product.

South West Nigeria
March 1945.

More Vintage Nigerian photos

(via nigerianostalgia)

In Photos: “Signares” by Fabrice Monteiro.

Exploring history and fashion along the west coast of Africa, for his series ‘Signares' Belgian-Beninese photographer Fabrice Monteiro recalls a time in history where distinct cultures collided.

As European traders and explorers began to ascend on Africa’s west coast around the 15th and 16th century, as these men where forbidden from bringing their families and wives from their home countries, they began to intermingle and intermarry with African women in the Senegambia region. As a result of these relations, many of these women began to orchestrate business dealings to their benefits “using these partnerships to bolster their socioeconomic standing and personal trading enterprises”. One signare in the 1770s from St Louis, Senegal, is noted to have been a property owner and dealer as she bought and sold property in Saint-Domingue, while “five other signares in Gorée signed a petition against a poorly run French company that had been awarded an exclusive contract with the island”. 

Although these relations were not at first recognized by colonial and European authorities, it later became acceptable for Europeans living in Senegal to marry and have their descendants profit from these unions through heritage rights. Most of these women were considered to be of a high class and often married “middle-class executives or French and English aristocrats”. Naturally, a new sense of fashion was born as the women combined their own traditional styles with European attire at the time.

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All Africa, All the time.

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

Curator Dr Jennifer Harris introduces the work of Abdoulaye Konaté featured in COTTON: Global Threads.

Konaté, a Malian artist who originally trained as a painter but transferred his work to cloth because paint was sometimes hard to obtain, works with cotton to tackle themes of genocide with beauty and sensitivity, referencing traditional techniques with powerful sociopolitical messages.

Another reason why working with textiles is of great significance in his work is because historically, in Mali and throughout many West African societies, textiles have been a key medium through which artists in these communities expressed themselves.

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

afrodiaspores:

Portraits in the series, “Guardians of Dahomeyan Deities from Benin to Maranhão [Brazil]” (“Zeladores de Voduns do Benin ao Maranhão”) by Márcio Vasconcelos, 2009-2011. In order from the top: ”Pai Euclides,” “Curador,” “Mãe Elzita,” “Mundica Estrela,” “Irene Moreira,” and an unidentified practitioner. Voduns are spirits of Fon origin venerated in the Brazilian religious formations Tambor da Mina and Jeje Candomblé.

Ethnographer and historian Kelly E. Hayes defines a key term:

Zelador means “caretaker” or “custodian” and typically refers to the caretaker of a building or residence…Spirits are conceptualized as members of one’s family, and like family members, the labor required to maintain harmonious relationships with them involves activities of remembering, caring, feeding, and feting. These activities ensure the continual flow of axé, vital energy or life force, necessary for the well-being of both humans and spirits.

(via talesofthestarshipregeneration)

Images taken by Ghanaian photographer Nii Obodai during a Homowo Festival celebrated by the Ga people from the greater Accra region of Ghana:

This harvest festival is celebrated by the Ga people from the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.

It begins with the sowing of millet by the traditional priests in May. After this, thirty-day ban on drumming is imposed on the land by the priests.

The festival is highlighted at varying times by different quarters of the Ga tribe. The Ga-mashie group of the tribe will celebrate theirs’ a little earlier than the La group.

Homowo recounts the migration of the Gas and reveals their agricultural success in their new settlement. According to Ga oral tradition, a severe famine broke out among the people during their migration to present day Accra. They were inspired by the famine to embark on massive food production exercises which eventually yielded them bumper harvest.

Their hunger ended and with great joy they “hooted at hunger” this is the meaning of the word HOMOWO.

Quartey-Papafio, A.B. ” The Ga Homowo Festival”, Journal of the African Society, Vol. 19, 1919

September: Highlighting African Photographers

For Xhosa boys, their ceremonial transition to manhood - a process known as Ukwaluka - includes traditional circumcision. It is a time honoured ritual woven deep into the fabric of their society.

In this documentary,Ndiyindoda: I am a man, Al Jazeera looks at the history behind this sacred tradition and the controversies surrounding this practice in South Africa today.

(tw: mention of surgical practices)

Bonile Bam, Initiation, Transkei, Eastern Cape, 2000.

September: Highlighting African Photographers

Bonile Bam, Initiation, Transkei, Eastern Cape, 2000.

September: Highlighting African Photographers

qalbesaleem:

Mozambique: Meanings Behind Women’s Traditional Mussiro Masks

In the northern coastal region and islands of Mozambique, it’s common to come across women with faces covered with a natural white mask, called mussiro or n’siro. The purpose of the mask seems to have evolved over time. Nowadays it tends to be considered more as a means of beautifying the skin, but according to oral accounts, mussiro masks used to carry other subliminal messages related to the civil status of women.

While some meanings might have been lost through history, we pay homage to Mozambican women through this article on what some consider to be one of the strongest brand images of the country.

Matope Jose, from Mozmaníacos, wrote[pt] about the mussiro tradition:

"The Nampula province is traditionally known as the land of “muthiana orera”, or simply beautiful ladies. The women from that region of the country have a technique that is particular to them: they treat the skin from an early age, using a sought-after forest species called mussiro, a plant that by law must be preserved and multiplied, and that is used more generally by communities to cure various diseases, as well as for decorative purposes."

In the following video [pt] by Julio Silva, women from Angoche explain how the tradition has been passed down to today’s generation from their grandparents, and they show how the cream is extracted from the Olax dissitiflora plant using a stone and some water:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgUD51EDnQ4

"This is the plant that we, as mussiros, use on our faces. It is what you can see on my face, that’s the plant.

I am Fátima, from Angoche. This mussiro, our grandparents first used it to show when a girl was a virgin. Then she would enter a house. They painted themselves with this mussiro to become white, until a boy came along who they fell in love with and married; only afterwards did they stop using the mussiro. Only afterwards, they use the mussiro like this, when someone is outside, in order to be white, to make their faces beautiful. This is mussiro. The plant is in the forest. While we usually go and meet our husbands, the great grandparents go and cut it and start selling it. Now I will show you the way we make the mussiro.”

A post [pt] on the Baía magazine website adds that the tradition of mussiro being used by virgins or by women whose husbands were away is no longer its only usage:

"Nowadays, this paste is widely used and has been “liberalised” for all women, from the north to south of the country, so that it can be used not only by the Makwa or Makonde women, but also by the Manhungue, Machuabo, Maronga, Machope, Matswa, etc. It is already considered to be a beauty treatment used by all women specially concerned with African feminine beauty. Some designers are expecting their models to use this “Afro paste” on major catwalks, as they do at Mozambique Fashion Week."

nigerianostalgia:

Yoruba women dressed in traditional Aso Egbé (ceremonial and society attire) Ìró, Bùbá, and Gèlè. ca. 1968.
Vintage Nigeria

A Bamana woman from Mali hand painting a Bògòlanfinicloth.

In traditional bògòlanfini production, men weave the cloth and women dye it.

Bògòlanfini patterns are rich in cultural significance, referring to historical events (such as a famous battle between a Malian warrior and the French), crocodiles (significant in Bambara mythology) or other objects, mythological concepts or proverbs.

Since about 1980, Bògòlanfini has become a symbol of Malian cultural identity and is being promoted as such by the Malian government. Bògòlanfini is worn by hunters, serving as camouflage, as ritual protection and as a badge of status. Women are wrapped in bògòlanfini after their initiation into adulthood (which includes genital cutting) and immediately after childbirth, as the cloth is believed to have the power to absorb the dangerous forces released under such circumstances.

fckyeahprettyafricans:

This is Swaziland’s best known cultural event, and has a more open feel than the Incwala. In this eight-day ceremony, young girls cut reeds, present them to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi) – ostensibly to repair the windbreak around her royal residence – and then dance in celebration. Up to 40,000 girls take part, dressed up in brightly coloured attired - making it one of the biggest and most spectacular cultural events in Africa. Taking place over a week, it is largely private, however its final two days are open to the public.

The full schedule is as follows:

Day One

The girls gather at the Queen Mother’s royal village. Today this is at Ludzidzini, in Sobhuza’s time it was at Lobamba. They come in groups from the 200 or so chiefdoms and are registered for security. Men, usually four, supervise them, appointed chiefs. They sleep in the huts of relatives in the village or in classrooms of nearby schools. This is a very exciting time for the maidens.

Day Two

The girls are separated into two groups, the older (about 14 to 22 years) and the younger (about 8 to 13 years). In the afternoon, they march to the reed-beds with their supervisors. The older girls often march about 30 kilometers, while the younger girls march about ten kilometers. If the older girls are sent further, government will provide trucks for their transport.

Day Three

The girls cut their reeds, usually about ten to twenty, using long knives. Each girl ties her reeds into a bundle. Nowadays they use strips of plastic for the tying, but those mindful of tradition will still cut grass and plaint it into rope.

Day Four

In the afternoon, the girls set off to return to the Queen Mother’s village, carrying their bundles of reeds. Again they return at night. This is done “to show they traveled a long way.”

Day Five

A day of rest where the girls make final preparations to their hair and dancing costumes. After all that walking, who doesn’t deserve a little pampering?

Day Six

First day of dancing, from about three to five in the afternoon. The girls drop their reeds outside the Queen Mother’s quarters. They move to the arena and dance, keeping their groups and each group singing different songs at the same time.

Day Seven

Second and last day of dancing. His Majesty the King will be present.

Day Eight

King commands that a number of cattle (perhaps 20 -25) be slaughtered for the girls. They receive pieces of meat and go home.

To read a blog entry all about Swaziland’s Reed Dance and for more click here:

http://www.thekingdomofswaziland.com/pages/blog_01/blog_item.asp?Blog_01ID=6

Photograph of women doing hair in Lagos, Nigeria. I can’t stop looking at madam’s incredible arm tattoos. Reminds me of this photo of a Yoruba woman with similar lower arm tattoos.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women