starbucks (@starbucks) logo traces roots back to Africa.

Info via citizins (@citizins) 

When you see that Starbucks logo, you probably think the same thing as me: “There’s that ‘smiling mermaid’ logo, there must be some good, but overpriced, coffee nearby”. Well what isn’t known to the world is that this is a picture of Yemaya, also know through out West Africa and the Caribbean as Yemoja,Yemowo, Mami Wata, Janaína, LaSiren (in Vodou) is an Orisha – said to be a Goddess of the traditional Yoruba religion that was brought by the enslaved Africans of what is now Nigeria to the west. She is the patron of women, in particular, pregnant women. When slaves were transported across the ocean, it was said to be Yemaya who protected them on their journey and kept them safe. She is kind and giving. She takes a long time to anger but when she does, watch out, you have a hurricane on your hands. She is said to be the “mother whose children number as the fish in the sea” and that is why she is presented as a two-tailed mermaid.Yemaya is said to bring forth and protect life through all the highs and lows, even during the worst atrocities that can be suffered. She reminds women to take time out for themselves, to nurture their own needs and to respect their deserved position in life.

Happy Black History month everyone!


VIDEO:Introducing French Afro-Cuban Twin Sisters Ibeyi & Their Yoruba Doom Soul

Ibeyi, made up of Cuban-born, Paris-based twin sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz, is an electronic doom soul duo who are forging a new spiritual sound with their debut EP Oya. The 19-year-old musicians are XL Recordings‘ newest signees, and their introductory singles “Oya” and “River” possess a hypnotic blend of hip-hop, electronica, and blues infused with Yoruba prayers and folk songs that will transport you to a higher realm upon first listen.

Singing in French, English, Spanish and Yoruba, Ibeyi count among their primary influences Nina Simone, Meshell Ndegeocello, James Blake and their late father, the celebrated Cuban jazz percussionist Miguel “Anga” Diaz. Ibeyi’s vocal range, which wavers from the raspy and wraith-like to the sonorous and divine, is ideal for their sonic palette which revels in the phantasmagorical groove of liturgical Yoruba songs. Besides singing in Yoruba–which was brought to Cuba by West African slaves–Ibeyi honor their father’s legacy and Afro-Cuban heritage through their percussive production and use of live instruments. Beatsmith Naomi plays both the cajón and the batá while Lisa-Kaindé remains more in tune with the musical mythos of Ibeyi’s sound by weaving Yoruba lore deeply into their lyrics. “River” is dedicated to the goddess Oshun (the mother of the Ibeyi, and their first single and EP are both named for  Oya (the benevolent orisha who took the Ibeyi in after Oshun was accused of witchcraft for birthing twins and kicked them out).

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Cristina De Middel: This is What Hatred Did (Nigeria)

This is epically beautiful work. See the complete series here.  Also the author of the brilliant Afronaughts series. 

Project Description by Artist:

In the sixities a 5 year old Nigerian kid´s village was attacked by soldiers. His mother had left him home alone and he had to run away   escaping the bombs and the fire. He saved his life entering the Bush, this magical territory where no humans are allowed and where all the Yoruba spirits live and fight. Our kid spent  30 years lost in the Bush trying to find his way back home  amongst the spirits and the dead. He got married two times, became a king, a god and a slave, a cow,  a jar, a horse, a goat, ate gold, silver and bronze, snakes and snails, he fought 2 wars and was sentenced to death half a dozen times… all that  in just 100 pages. Amos Tutuola wrote “ My life in the bush of ghosts” in 1964 and then had to leave the country to escape the violent reactions to a book that would open in the exilium, a new path for contemporary African narrative. The story is told by the 5 year old kid in a very basic, direct, naive and repetitive style that only children master, but manages to convey the magical and absurd reality that war and religion added to the Nigerian reality. The series  “ This is what hatred did” (Mysterious last sentence of the book) aims to provide an illustrated contemporary version of this story adapting the characters, the space and the ambient to the actual situation of the country. The Bush is  now the Lagosian neighborhood of Makoko, a floating slum with its own rules, commanded by Kings and community leaders. A place where no logic seems to prevail and that is equally forbidden for those who do not belong. With the conviction that contemporary issues should be described in a way that includes the agent´s traditions, perspectivas, fears and hopes, this series documents the enhanced reality of one of the most iconic places in Nigeria according to the always dramatic media.

Looking to learn your language? (UPDATED!!)

The following are good  free online language  resources for learning different languages spoken in West Africa. Feel free to add on to the list if you know of another resource to help people.


Yorùbá Yé Mi

UPenn Yoruba Vocabulary

I Love Languages- Yoruba

My Languages- Yoruba

University of Georgia- Yoruba


Yoruba- Basic Course/ Tapes


Rapport Hausa Course

Headstart Hausa Course

UCLA Hausa Resources

Byki Hausa Vocabulary List

UPenn Hausa Vocabulary

Boston University Hausa Resources

I Love Languages- Hausa

Hausa Tapes

Hausa- Basic Course


UCLA Wolof Resources

UPenn Wolof Vocabulary

Boston University Wolof Resources

LAAF Wolof Lessons

Indiana University Wolof Folktales and Songs

Indiana University Wolof Lessons


UPenn Twi Vocabulary

Akan Pronunciation Game (helps you learn the tones)

Some Vocabulary 

Twi Tapes

Peace Corps Twi

Indiana University Twi Folktales and Songs

Indiana University Twi Lessons


UPenn Igbo Vocabulary

Igbo Net

Some Igbo Vocabulary 

I Love Languages- Igbo

Igbo- Basic Course


LAAF Mandinka lessons


LAAF Bambara lessons

Peace Corps Bambara

Indiana University Bambara Lessons

Indiana University Folktales and Songs in Bambara


LAAF Mooré lessons

Mooré Tapes

Mooré Basic Course

Fula(ni)/ Pulaar

Fula- Basic Course


Some Vocabulary 

Ewe Greetings and Basics


University of California Bade


University of California Bole


University of California Duwai


University of California Karekare


University of California Maka


University of California Ngamo


University of California Ngizim


University of California Miya

I added some additional websites as well as languages. Also I would like to state that is in no way meant to be a comprehensive list of all of the languages of west Africa. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of languages and I cannot find resources for them all. I will keep adding to this list.



 Ayo is a traditional Yoruba board game, however It is widely played throughout West Africa and the Caribbean. Among its many names are Awalé (Côte d'Ivoire), Wari (Mali), Ouri, Ouril or Uril (Cape Verde), Warri (Caribbean), Wali (Dagbani), Adji (Ewe), Nchọ (Igbo) and Awélé (Ga). A common name in English is Awari or Wari.


The Yoruba theology resides mainly in the believe of a one God, who created everything that exists. From Him came several energies who take care of every detail of the Universe, those are called by the Yoruban believers, Irunmole and Orishas.

In the Yoruba system of belief, before you’re born you have already decided what is going to happen with your life, this happens through Ori, which decide what is going to be the main objective in the new life you’re begining. Using the different energies of the Universe, we can achieve easily the needed balance to get to that final objective pre defined by ourselves, meaning living life in balance, with health, happiness and wealth.

Once you come to the earthly plane, your body is formed by three elements: Emí (spirit), Orí (soul) and Ará (body). The Emí and the Orí live inside the Ará but separated. Orí has the knowledge and the wisdom of passed lifes, it keeps closed to ones consciousness until death.

Emí allows us to our internal dialogue, it stores memories from this encarnation, and it goes aside from our counsciousness when we incorporate the Orisha, then he goes out the Ará.

When we die, Emí and Orí becomes one and leave the Ará who will transform in a dead body (Okú). Once they’re only one energy they’ll wait for the fate that will come to them, meaning returning to Aiyé transformed in an spirit (eggun) and wait for the reincarnation (Atúnwá), or if Aragbá Orún (Way to Orún), to get to the Ará Orún state (habitant of the Orún) with the Orishas. These state is only achieved after several reincarnations, until ones Emí has a state pure enough to become an habitant of Orún.

Every dweller of Aiyé, according to their behaviour in life can be considered as an omoluabí or an ajogun. Those who broked the laws and had a despicable behaviour during life, become ajogun or dark spirits, among those are:

Iku: The Death. King of the Ajogun.
Arun: The disease.
Ofo: The greed.
Epe: The hatress.
Ewon: The selfishness.
Egba: The loneliness.

The omoluabí are those that were rightous in the life, but anyway commited some mistakes, they’re considered kind spirits and can be adored as family ancestors.

 Yemaya is considered the mother of life, the universal mother model. Her skirts of seven flights announce the birth of man and the gods. “Queen of thet sea”, mother of the Orishas and mankind. Queen of witches and all that lives under the sea. Her compassion is a healing force that rescues the faithful of all their problems. Yemaya also governs the powers of regeneration. Yemaya’s typical offerings are fruits and molasses. Yemaya lives and reigns in the seas and lakes. She also mastered motherhood in our lives and is the Mother of All. Her name, a shortened version of Yeye Omo Eja means “Mother whose Children are the Fish”, a name that reflects the fact that Yemaya’s children are countless. -Ashe..

Barbie who? Nigeria’s Queens of Africa dolls take on US toymaker Mattel

With a booming economy in Nigeria and more black children than anywhere else in the world, Taofick Okoya was dismayed when he could not find a black doll for his niece.

The 43-year-old spotted a gap in the market and, with little competition from foreign firms such as Mattel Inc, the maker of Barbie, he set up his own business.

Seven years on, Okoya sells between 6,000 and 9,000 of his Queens of Africa and Naija Princesses a month.

“I like it,” says Ifunanya Odiah, five, struggling to contain her excitement as she inspects one of Okoya’s dolls in a Lagos shopping mall. “It’s black, like me.”

Nigeria’s three largest ethnic groups of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are represented in the Queens of Africa range, highlighting the growing sophistication of consumers – and the need to tailor products to local tastes. [x]


I love being Yoruba. I love being Nigerian. I love being African. I love being BLACK. So proud to be just who I am..Whoever you are, whatever you represent. Be proud of it, and never let anyone make you feel ashamed of who you are, or where your blood comes from. Every single human on this planet is unique and beautiful. Appreciate yourself, appreciate our differences. 


Photographer: Guan

Designer: V. Faraji