Intro to weaving: Week 3

This week we are focusing on the rich and varied weaving traditions of west Africa.  There are numerous weaving traditions that have been developed and used throughout the African continent. The weaving technique that we will cover in this unit is the broad upright loom weaving technique used in southern Nigeria, Benin Republic and Cameroon. This technique was used to create numerous ritual, prestige and domestic textiles, that were used locally and exported throughout west and central Africa. Primarily ( often exclusively) women used this loom as opposed to the narrow strip loom that was exclusively used by men until the mid-late twentieth century. The prestigious Aso-Olona cloths used by the ogboni society of the Yoruba people are part of this tradition as are the blue and white textiles from the former Benin empire  that were exported to european traders in vast quantities. I studied weaving in Ogidi Ijumu at the the Nike center for art and culture under my teacher, master weaver Mrs Agnes Umeche ,who was born in the neighboring town of Okene a historic center for weaving arts.

Below: Mrs Agnes Umeche and her work

 It is an honor  to be able to teach this art to students here in the United States. For now we are practicing using a modified handheld version of the loom made from sanded canvas stretchers. Apprentices would use a similar practice loom made from an upturned stool or calabash when they first started out.  

Below : A Yoruba woman setting an upright loom, Ihaka  and Jordan setting their practice looms.

I am excited to see how the work they are doing translates to their larger pieces on a full sized loom. These traditions were once very widespread in Nigeria. In fact in the igbo village of Akwete all women were expected to weave. The Yoruba towns of Owo,Ilorin and Ijebu Ode and the Ebira town of Okene were also renowned for their textiles. Although this art is still practiced in Nigeria this particular type of weaving is becoming rarer as time progresses. It is my hope that places like the Nike center for art and culture continue to revive these arts in Nigeria. As an African American who most likely has roots in southern Nigeria learning this art form was a healing experience, one that felt like the reclamation of an ancestral skill that had been taken away by force. I hope to share that experience with my students. Be sure to stay tuned as we continue our journey through the work of african textiles. 

Below: More examples of students weaving on their practice looms

Beyonce been subtly teaching us African-Americans that we come from West Africa, not "Egypt."People swear she’s too light and not Afrocentric enough to represent us, but um, how many other African-American celebrities do you know who doesn’t erase West and Central Africa as African-American lineage?
Dear Hoteps

The majority of Africans currently born in the Americas are from WEST and CENTRAL Africa. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the greatness of Black Egypt (as they are your distant ancestors) but you are not Egyptian. 

If you cant name off at least 20 African countries, 5 different African cultures, 5 historical kingdoms, events, and/or leaders, and 5 different resources from around the African continent; one from each African region (North, South, East, West, and Central), all off the top for your head; you don’t know shit about your people. 

If you take the time to research the rest of the continent you will also find that some of your restricting ideologies of black women and black LGBT are of European descent and not pro black.

Gender roles were diverse in precolonial Africa.  Many African cultures ran on a matriarchy as well as a patriarchy. Black women had their own organizations, government systems, and even ran economies. In some cultures, women were fighters, warriors, and frontliners. They weren’t bound to stand behind men. Many African cultures saw women as the closest thing to “god” and certain spiritual practices, such as libations, were poured only by women.This was a mindset destroyed by European conquest. In the fight to reclaim our cultural identity, African women have the right to choose the state of being that caters to both their blackness and womanhood. If a woman decides to respectfully stand in front, beside, or behind a man, that is her ancestor approved right. If you preach against this, you are not pro black. You are pro black man….barely. Real men of substance are not so easily threatened. 

LGBT is not foreign to Africa, it was there before colonialism. Africans are not new to sex, something established by NATURE, not by man. Africans, ***INCLUDING THE EGYPTIANS****  explored sex within and outside their gender. Africans were able to identify with genders outside their own, and their community would honor that. Polygamy and Polyandry existed before European presence. As did cross-dressing. European conquest promoted LGBT-phobia through CHRISTIANITY. Who is going to Africa RIGHT NOW preaching hate, and VIOLENCE towards the LGBT community? The church. You give Europeans too much power. You honestly think they created something as basic as sexual orientation? In the fight to reclaim our cultural identity, black people have their ancestor approved right to be ALL of who they are. If you preach against this, you are not pro black. You are pro black heterosexual…..barely, a heterosexual person of substance is not so easily threatened. 

You still hide behind European ideologies, because it puts you on top. Community and family structure are important but we knew how to respect an individual for who they were. You are not pro black, you are not pro hotep, you are simply a disgrace to your ancestors because you are still pro colonialism.

These are just a few things wrong with your “hotep” notion. However, I wont undermine an attempt at restoring our cultural roots, so a word of advice: bring that crazy back a bit, live and let live (ONE OF THE MOST SUPREME AFRICAN PRINCIPLES), and start digging deeper. You are only brushing the surface. 

Igbo, Tuareg, Masai, Akan, Mbundu,  Bene, Bulu, Fang, Jaunde, Mokuk, Mwele, Ntum and Pangwe, Nilotico Lango, Bahima, Azande, Kiisi, Banyoro, Langi, Nuer, Kuria, Benin, Cape Bantu, Kikuyu, Egba, Dahomey, Yoruba, etc, etc, etc, etc, ETC, ET CETERA.

Letter to the Ankhs, Hoteps & Fake Deeps

Dear Ankhs, Hoteps & Fake Deeps,
Alkebulan is not the original true name of Africa. The name Africa was not given by the enemy to make us forget or destroy our history.
You should also know that Egypt is not the only country in Africa and with that being said, Africa is neither one country or one nation. Africa is a continent with 54 beautiful countries with over 2000+ languages, over 3000+ tribes and a huge amount of different cultures. Please respect the diversity of this vast continent. Also keep in mind that Egypt was not the only place in Africa where advanced ancient civilizations once existed or where Kings and Queens ruled. There is therefor no need to always and only mention or uplift Egypt because as you know or may not know, majority of the victims of the trans-atlantic slave trade came from the west & central parts of Africa so basically you’re most likely a descendant of African people who came from those areas.
Please do not spread false information about Africas history or cultures just because it screams pro-black and when you are called out for spreading misinformation on social media, do not block, delete comments. There is also no need to be rude. Just read your history correctly and always have sources to back up your facts to avoid such things.

Do not post pictures with captions like “A Black Queen should…” It is not your position to demand, command or advice women on how they should act. Your point of view or standards does not equal everybody elses.
Also, most of us black women are not like the women in the pictures you constantly post or repost. We are not all half naked, walking oil lamps with a tight curved body with gold painted on our butts and titties.
Please understand that the black female body is not yours to use for your sexist captions, memes, quotes, and misogynic thoughts and behaviour that you hide behind your so-called consciousness.

Homosexuality was not introduced to black people by the white man nor was it introduced to black people to whipe out the entire ‘race’. Babies are still being born within the black community so do not panic because maybe the only reason you did not realize that the black LGBT community is big might because you were not bothered to care that much before you became “woke”.

Respect other indigenous beings and their history, land and cultures! Just because the first of the human mankind appeared and came out of Africa does not mean that we are entitled to claim other groups, appropriate cultures and remake their history.

Every so-called unconscious black person are not coons, whitewashed, Uncle Toms, Massa’s puppet, house negroes or negropeans. The reason you call yourself woke is because you too were once at sleep, remember that.
So instead of spending your days online on social media bashing and insulting other black people for not being down with revolution or not being woke, try instead to understand what lies behind it.

Last but not least, demanding people to unite and build when you are most likely not doing the same is very hypocritical.

-Sincerely, tired black woman from the African continent.

Simbi is the collective name for a very diverse group of ancient ancestral spirits.Kongo spirituality is particularly sophisticated and creative. The Kongo world view divides into two pieces - heaven being the place of the gods and the earth the domain of the mortals. Between these two worlds lies a vast sea, an ocean of fluid that spirits traverse in their move between the two domains. Here is where the Simbis live.

In Kongo spirituality there is recognized a spiritual hierarchy. Immediately above living humans are the ancestors, or Nkuyu. These are the ancestors who are named. Above them, and more removed from humans, are the Simbi. In the Kongo belief system, all Simbi are associated with water. They are the source of special blessings but are known to be somewhat unpredictable. They are also said to be “twice born” which means that they have not lived recently on earth. Hence, they are a higher class of ancestors, having been elevated by death to a higher status than humans, yet still available to us for consultation and service.

—  Sosyetedumarche

“We have created the impression that we don’t care about the young people who are sick and dying…This is a war. It means that all of us should stand on our feet and mobilise the community” - Nelson Mandela, during a visit to one of the AIDS clinics in Khayelitsha. He expressed support for the treatment initiative, coupled with prevention programs, to protect the lives of people infected with HIV and to curb the impact of the virus. 

It’s the international day in honor of Nelson Mandela. It’s also AIDS2016 - where Doctors Without Borders will share operational research related to simplified patient-focused differentiated models of care, community-based testing, linkage and retention in care, human resources for health as well as scale up of routine viral load monitoring. 

Modern Science Is Helping Discover Where People Who Were Enslaved Were Born

From 1500 to 1850, when the trans-Atlantic slave trade was at its height, an estimated 12 million people were enslaved. Most were sold from West and West Central Africa. Diverse cultures, languages, traditions, and religions were found in these regions, but the ethnic and geographic origins of most of these individuals are lost to history. Modern DNA extraction is difficult, due to the long decomposition of former enslaved peoples, and that most of them were buried in tropical climates. But science is advancing every day.

Three people, known to have been enslaved, were buried on St. Martin. Researchers employed a new technique for studying fragmented DNA. They recovered small bits of DNA in tooth roots, which they then subjected to a technique called whole-genome capture. This allowed them to isolate and identify enough DNA to compare with modern samples from West Africa. One of the enslaved people belonged to a Bantu-speaking population in northern Cameroon, while the other two came from non-Bantu-speaking groups in Nigeria and Ghana. Though they were buried together, they may not have had a language in common.

17 July 2012

A thing to change: 

More than 18 million people in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa are facing a desperate shortage of food. Six countries in the region already have long-term, vetted plans to give people the tools they need to lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty. And some of the world’s most powerful countries have pledged to help fund these plans. 

Write to world leaders to make sure they act on these funding plans: http://act.one.org/sign/sahel_crisis/?source=fbw

25 March 2012

A good thing:

Via UN Wire: Beginning on Friday and finishing tomorrow, an estimated 111 million children younger than 5 will be targeted for vaccination against polio in 20 countries in West and Central Africa as part of a massive campaign by United Nations agencies, and their local partners. Some 58 million children will be immunized in Nigeria.

Read more: http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/agencies-to-vaccinate-millions-to-avert-polio-explosion-in-africa

Top ten things we need in future AC games:

1) Meaningful modern day story

2) More Templar perspectives

3) Eve

4) Juno

5) Games longer than 20 hours

6) Earlier time periods (medieval or earlier)

7) Full stories for characters (From entering the Assassin-Templar war until death)

8) Challenging combat (improvements from Unity’s system)

9) Asia (east, south, central, or west)

10) Africa (anywhere)

Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteria cyanea)

…also known as the Common Wattle-eye or Scarlet-spectacled Wattle-eye, the brown-throated wattle-eye is a species of wattle-eye (Platysteiridae) that is known to breed in west central and northeast tropical Africa. Brown-throated wattle-eyes are typically encountered in secondary forest and other wooded areas. They are even known to occupy gardens. Like other members of the family Platysteiridae, P. cyanea is insectivorous, foraging in small groups for a variety of insects and other invertebrates. 


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Passeriformes-Platysteiridae-Platysteria-P. cyanea

Image: Tom Tarrant

Sunday 25th March 2012

A good thing:

Via UN Wire: Beginning on Friday and finishing tomorrow, an estimated 111 million children younger than 5 will be targeted for vaccination against polio in 20 countries in West and Central Africa as part of a massive campaign by United Nations agencies, and their local partners. Some 58 million children will be immunized in Nigeria.

Read more: http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/agencies-to-vaccinate-millions-to-avert-polio-explosion-in-africa

A bad thing:

Even though public health experts recognize how deadly asbestos can be, its use is on the rise in the construction industry throughout Asia. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates some 107,000 workers die annually from asbestos-related diseases, out of 125 million people who encounter it in the workplace. 

Read more: http://www.irinnews.org/Report/95121/ASIA-Asbestos-deadly-but-not-yet-banned

A thing to change:

Roll up your pants and take a photo of your leg and upload it at: http://www.lendyourleg.org/

It’s a campaign by the UN to raise awareness about land-mines. Nearly 5,000 people died or were injured last year as a result of land-mines. On April 4th consider rolling up one of your pant legs for a day to lend your leg and help end the use of land-mines.  

Hartlaub’s Duck (Pteronetta hartlaubii)

…a unique species of duck, that is the sole member of the monotypic genus Pteronetta. Hartlaub’s Duck is a resident breeder in equatorial West and Central Africa, from Guinea and Sierra Leone east through Nigeria to South Sudan, and south to Gabon, Congo and Zaire. Hartlaub’s duck to be placed with the dabbling ducks, but recent analysis of mtDNA sequences of the cytochrome b and NADH  dehydrogenase subunit 2 genes, suggest that it belongs to a distinct clade (mabye even a subfamily) with the blue-winged goose. Hartlaub’s duck gets its species and common name in commemoration of the German naturalist Gustave Hartlaub. 


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Anseriformes-Anatidae-Pteronetta-P. hartlaubii

Image: DickDaniels

African Americans, or any black person on the Western Hemisphere whose ancestry stems from slavery, do not have ancestral roots from Egypt. Granted Egyptians were black…and slaves, but was taken to east, not the west. There are more African kings and Queens than Pharaohs. Let’s know them all, especially those that we can link to our true ethnic origins.
1. Senegambia
2. Sierra Leone
3. Windward coast
4. Gold Coast
5. Bight of Biafra
6. Night of Benin
7. West/Central Africa

#blacklivesmatter #slavery #roots

Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteria cyanea)

Also known as the common wattle-eye or the scarlet-spectacled wattle-eye, the brown-throated wattle-eye is a species of Wattle-eye (Platysteiridae) which breeds in west central and northeast tropical Africa. Brown-throated wattle-eyes are commonly found in areas of secondary forest and other woodland areas. Where they will forage in small groups for a wide range of insects and other arthropods.


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Passeriformes-Platysteiridae-Platysteria-P. cyanea

Image: Tom Tarrant 

  • Non-AA: You don't know where you come from.
  • Me: I come from West Africa.
  • Non-AA: Well, you only know region. What country?
  • Me: I dunno. I'm not sure. I know friends and others who've taken ancestry tests and the majority have gotten Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon. It's likely a bunch of West African countries and some Central Africa.
  • Non-AA: Okay, but did you know there are like 20 tribes in Nigeria. It's not just one culture.
  • Me: -_- I know that.
  • Non-AA: So what tribe are you from?
  • Me: Look, I know you like to make African Americans out to be ignorant who don't know anything about the very area they descend from, but let's not raise goalposts and play a thousand questions, okay?
  • Non-AA: I'm just saying. If you don't know where you come from, just take a DNA test.
  • Me: Thanks, Maury, but since when are DNA tests reliable and give accurate percentages on one's ancestry? And you honestly think all are willing to pay two-hundred dollars for somethiny many see as bogus?
  • Non-AA: Um, well. You seem to be an exception but educate 98% of your African American people. Just because YOU'RE not ignorant doesn't mean others are.
  • Me: *sighs resignedly*