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Showing posts with label cultural influence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cultural influence. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Colonialism's Residue: The African Private Sphere Then and Now

In today's global conversation, we often overlook the deeply entrenched effects of history on our daily lives. From the tea we sip to the way we conceive family and individuality, the marks are indelible. Here, we dive into the complex interplay between colonial legacies and the evolution of private life in Africa—a theme whose resonances echo across continents and through time.

Colonialism was not a chapter but a novel, a sprawling epic that wrote itself into the identity, culture, and very homes of Africans. So potent were its imprints that they linger today, shaping how the private sphere in Africa has evolved. One cannot truly grasp this impact without acknowledging that it's a two-way street. As W.E.B. Du Bois encapsulated in the idea of "double consciousness," the African identity is forever changed, yet forever powerful, continuously redefining itself in the face of colonial legacies.

Now let's slow down and savor the wisdom in the African proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." This adage encapsulates a cornerstone of African community life. Before the heavy hand of colonial rule, the African private sphere was a tapestry woven tightly by the threads of community and family. An Asian counterpart to this collectivism can be found in Confucianism, which also places high regard on family values and communal living. What emerges is a global dialogue, a confluence of philosophies that transcend borders and color, speaking to the universal desire for communal stability.

You know the routine. Every morning, we all engage in rituals that make us who we are. Maybe it's a cup of Ethiopian coffee or Japanese matcha; these are little pieces of history we ingest every day. These everyday practices, from the spices in our foods to the call and response in our spiritual practices, have been shaped by centuries of cultural interaction, colonization, and resilience. These daily habits connect us to a story much larger than ourselves, often without us even knowing it.

Feel that? It's the emotional resonance in our collective memory when we hear old songs or stories—those that bring either a smile to our faces or a tear to our eyes. Humor and sorrow co-exist in this space, offering an emotional vibrancy that feeds our spirit. Whether it's a stand-up comedy that channels the audacious wit of Richard Pryor or a folk tale that delves into profound moral lessons, these are more than mere entertainment. They are history's pulse, kept alive through our private lives and personal interactions.

But this isn't just about looking back. As we glance into the future, the threads of the past continue to weave through our modern fabric. Take entrepreneurship, for example. Today's young Africans are blending traditional wisdom with modern innovation, carving new pathways that honor the old while welcoming the new. This complex dance of history, private life, and progress is not exclusive to any one culture—it's a global narrative, as compelling as it is intricate, inviting us all to take part in shaping the next chapter.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Influence of African Culture on Contemporary Jewelry Design

The story of a humble bead from Africa finding its way onto the necks of Hollywood A-listers isn't just a narrative of aesthetic evolution; it's a tale of cultural imprinting that moves far beyond the notion of mere adornment.

Ever paused and examined a piece of jewelry you were about to wear? The beads, the gems, the texture. They are so much more than random collections of shiny objects; they are intricate tales woven in metal and stone. Well, get ready to rethink that string of beads or that gold cuff on your wrist, because it might just have an ancestral lineage tracing back to African soil. If you think you're wearing just a piece of jewelry, think again—you're donning a history lesson, a geography test, and a culture class all rolled into one.

Hold up, and listen to this: there's a habit we all need to embrace, especially if you're a LinkedIn power-user like I presume you are. Before putting on your jewelry every morning, pause. Just pause. Look at that piece and ask, "What story is dangling from my earlobe?" I promise you, the reflection will resonate through your day and perhaps even amplify your professional aura. You're not just wearing an accessory; you're wearing a global exchange of ideas and identities.

Feeling jazzed yet? Feeling like that piece of jewelry is less a fashion statement and more a declaration of cultural unity? Because let me tell you, the influence of African culture on contemporary jewelry design is like the great Nile River fertilizing the lands of Egypt; it breathes life into an otherwise barren landscape. And that's not just exciting, it's awe-inducing. The way African motifs have traveled, transcending geographical and cultural borders, to adorn your wrists and necks, is nothing short of magic.

So, there was this artisan from Ghana. Let's call him Kwame. Kwame wasn't just creating necklaces; he was braiding generations of his lineage into each piece. His beadwork wasn't merely aesthetic; it was a symphony of colors that spoke of the lands, the spirits, and the people of his village. Kwame never thought his artistry would leave his local market. But there's a plot twist: his designs caught the eye of a visiting fashion designer from Paris. Fast forward a year, and you find Kwame's once humble beads now adorning haute couture runway models. His work didn't just cross the Atlantic; it performed a cultural coup d'état on the global fashion industry.

To summarize this journey we've just undertaken together: African culture isn't just influencing contemporary jewelry design; it's redefining it. It's imbuing it with stories, cultures, and an emotional power that we often overlook. So the next time you pick up a piece of jewelry, know that it could be a passport to another world, an open diary in the form of beads and metals, and a potent testament to the influence of African culture on contemporary jewelry design.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

The African Roots of Popular Black American Slang

Language is a living entity, constantly evolving and adapting to the cultures and communities that shape it. In the vibrant tapestry of Black American culture, one can find a rich and unique linguistic heritage that draws upon diverse influences. While many assume that Black American slang solely originates from within the United States, there is a deeper story to be told. Unbeknownst to some, the roots of popular Black American slang trace back to the African continent, weaving a thread of connection across oceans and generations. In this blog post, we explore the fascinating origins of Black American slang and uncover the African influences that have shaped its vibrant lexicon.

Gullah Geechee: Preserving African Linguistic Traditions

One of the key linguistic influences on Black American slang can be traced to the Gullah Geechee culture of the southeastern coastal region of the United States. Descendants of West and Central African slaves, the Gullah Geechee people developed a distinct dialect that retained numerous African linguistic elements. Words such as "biddy" (meaning girl), "tote" (meaning carry), and "gumbo" (meaning okra soup) found their way into Black American slang, leaving a lasting imprint of African linguistic traditions.

African Diaspora: Linguistic Connections Across the Atlantic

The African diaspora, marked by the forced migration of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade, played a significant role in shaping the linguistic landscape of Black America. Enslaved Africans brought with them their native languages, which blended with English and other European languages over time. As a result, African words, syntax, and pronunciation merged with English, giving birth to unique expressions and slang that still resonate today.

African American Vernacular English (AAVE): A Language of Resilience

African American Vernacular English (AAVE), commonly known as Ebonics, represents a distinct linguistic variety that evolved within Black American communities. AAVE encompasses a diverse range of grammatical structures, intonations, and vocabulary, many of which have roots in African languages. Words like "fam" (derived from the West African term "fam" meaning family) and "lit" (inspired by the Nigerian Pidgin English word "lit" meaning exciting) have become ubiquitous in contemporary Black American slang.

Hip-Hop Culture: Bridging Past and Present

Hip-hop, a cultural movement that emerged in Black communities during the 1970s, has played a pivotal role in shaping Black American slang. From the lyrical stylings of influential artists like Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls to the rhythmic wordplay of poets like Langston Hughes, hip-hop has been a catalyst for the evolution and dissemination of Black American slang. By blending African-infused language with urban experiences, hip-hop artists have created a dynamic linguistic tapestry that resonates with people worldwide.


The African roots of popular Black American slang are deeply intertwined with the history, resilience, and creativity of Black communities. From the Gullah Geechee culture to the broader African diaspora, the influence of African languages and expressions is evident in the lexicon of Black American slang. This linguistic heritage serves as a testament to the enduring cultural connections between Africa and the African diaspora. By understanding and appreciating the African origins of Black American slang, we can celebrate the richness and diversity of Black culture while fostering a deeper sense of connection and unity.