On this day in 1960, Niger gained independence from France. The landlocked African nation borders Mali, Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, and Burkina Faso. European powers first came into contact with Niger in the nineteenth century, and, in 1922, after years of French attempts to subdue dissidents, the country became a French colony. Life under colonial rule was fraught, with Nigerien citizens only entitled to limited French citizenship and power being wielded by distant colonial governors. In the 1950s, the French government introduced reforms aimed at increasing Nigerien political participation and provided for a measure of self-government. In 1958, French colonies in Africa were given the right to hold a referendum on their membership in the French Community - a body seen as a step towards independence. Nigerien voters were divided on the issue, but eventually the ‘yes’ campaign, headed by the Nigerien Progressive Party under the leadership of Hamani Diori, was successful. In December, Niger declared itself a republic within the French Community; this is often considered the founding of the Nigerien nation. Diori became Prime Minister of Niger in 1959 and, with assistance from the French, consolidated his rule into an effective one-party state. In July 1960, France agreed to Niger’s full independence, and Diori declared independence in August, a day which is celebrated as Independence Day in Niger. Diori then became President of Niger, but his administration was notoriously corrupt, negligent of domestic concerns, repressive of dissidents, and exclusionary of major ethnic groups. In 1974, Diori was ousted in a military coup and imprisoned; in the following years, Niger has seen a series of military governments and attempts at liberalising reforms.
“He (Barack Obama) has done nothing for African Americans. You look at what’s gone on with their income levels. You look at what’s gone on with their youth. I thought that he would be a great cheerleader for this country. I thought he’d do a fabulous job for the African American citizens of this country. He has done nothing.”
For people who’ve had to deal with colonialism from white people, Africans in the west sure seem desperate for white approval.
How you out here buying into white supremacy and hating African Americans while reaping all the benefits of their struggles and playing border control to West African cultures while participating in African American culture?!
A Maternal Rite of Passage in the Democratic Republic of Congo
In the lush forests that make up
the Western reaches of the Democratic Republic of Congo, new first-time
mothers from the Ekonda tribe follow a strict ritual meant to protect
their newborns, elevate their spirits, and bring prestige to their
families. For several years after giving birth, the young women live in
semi-seclusion, separated from their husbands and cared for by other
female tribe members. Covered daily in red powder made of Ngola wood,
which is believed to ward off evil and disease, the women, known as
Walés, or “nursing mothers,” avoid strenuous work or sexual relations.
When the time comes to reënter society, each woman puts on a show for
the community, translating the lessons learned during seclusion into
song and dance.
These celebrations captured the attention of the French photographer Patrick Willocq,
who first developed a love for the D.R.C. while living there as a
teen-ager, when his father worked for a local G.M. plant. For his series
“I Am Walé, Respect Me” and “Forever Walé,” produced between 2013 and
2015, Willocq constructed elaborate and surreal sets inspired by the
Ekonda mothers’ chants, then photographed staged scenes of the women
Umbilini is a primal force used by Zulu shaman to connect their minds with deities in the spirit realm.
Working the Snake Power: A Zulu View
My grandfather also taught me how to control my powers of seeing and
how to sharpen them and make them more accurate and efficient. He taught
me the art of breathing properly. He taught me the secret art of
joining my mind to that of the great gods in the unseen
world. He taught me how to sit still - very, very still - and eliminate
all thoughts from my mind and call upon the hidden powers of my soul.
In short, my grandfather taught me the Zulu version of what is called
in English, “meditation”. How to breathe softly and gently like a
whisper until you feel something like a hot coiled snake bursting
through the top of your head - a fearsome thing that is known as the
umbilini. This umbilini, my grandfather told me, is the source, the
primal source of the sangoma’s powers. A sangoma must be able to summon
this umbilini at will through the beating of the drum and through
meditation, very, very deep meditation.
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa will feature in upcoming documentary Ancestral
Voices 2 which will document shared African philosophies and ritual
practices across the continent. See how you can support this much-needed
educational resource. www.ancestralvoices.co.uk/av2