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I FEEL SOOO....AFRICAN Authentic art, accessories, and apparel from Africa to You!

Welcome to the I Feel Sooo....African weekly newsletter! We hope that you enjoy learning about new topics each week and your feedback is always welcomed. Topics in this issue include:

  • History of mud cloth
  • History of Pan-Africanism
  • Beyond The Return
  • What is ECOWAS?
  • Afrobeats
  • History of the Ashantis
  • Products of the Week
  • Client Photos
  • Free Shipping Reminder
  • How to get a $25 in-store shopping credit
  • Connect with us on Social Media
FLAG OF GHANA
HISTORY OF MUDCLOTH

Mud cloth, also called bogolan, is one of Africa's most unusual and unique textiles.

Narrow strips of handwoven cotton are stitched together into a whole cloth, then painted with patterns and symbols using a variety of natural dyes, including river mud that has been aged up to one year. As these cloths are handwoven, the thickness and weight are variable, but generally they are similar to a light blanket.

Traditionally made by men, they weave together thin strips of plain fabric, usually a yellowish beige natural color, into squares that are then stitched together. After the construction of the cloth, the fabric is then dyed in baths of leaves and branches. This process is used to bind the dye to the fabric.

The fabric is then laid out to dry in the sun, after which beautiful patterns are intricately and carefully painted using a special kind of mud. The mud used is collected from numerous streams and ponds and left to ferment over seasons.

As the mud dries, it changes colors, from dark brown or black to a gray color. The excess mud is washed off the fabric and the process is repeated many times. With each repetition, the affected area becomes darker. The unpainted areas are treated with a bleaching agent, turning the natural yellow color brown. After sun drying for a week, the fabric is washed off and leaves the characteristic white pattern on a dark background.

We will be introducing a multi purpose holiday gift pack in the next few weeks, which will include our beloved mudcloth. It is a one of a kind keepsake so be on the lookout for it!

BEAUTIFUL PATTERNS OF MUDCLOTH
HISTORY OF PAN-AFRICANISM

Pan-Africanism is the belief that people of African descent have common interests and should be unified. Historically, Pan-Africanism has often taken the shape of a political or cultural movement. There are many varieties of Pan-Africanism. In its narrowest interpretation, Pan-Africanists envision a unified African nation where all people of the African Diaspora can live. In more general terms, Pan-Africanism is the sentiment that people of African descent have a great deal in common, a fact that deserves notice and even celebration.

Pan-Africanist cultural thinking re-emerged with renewed force in the United States in the late 1960s and ’70s as one of the manifestations of the Black Power movement. By the early 1970s it had become relatively common for African Americans to investigate their African cultural roots and adopt

African forms of cultural practice, especially African styles of dress. Pan-Africanism has become even more of a conversation piece due to the unrest not only in the U.S. but the world over. The same ideological and cultural shifts are occurring once again and I Feel Sooo African aims to be an advocate for the movement. Watch this clip of Thomas Wakiaga’s in-depth explanation of Pan-Africanism

WHAT IS BEYOND THE RETURN ALL ABOUT?

Beyond the Return is the succeeding initiative to the Year of Return by the Government of Ghana not only to promote tourism and home coming of Africans and Ghanaians in the diaspora, but to foster economic relations and investments from the diaspora in Africa and Ghana.

Beyond the Return was launched by President Nana Akuffo Addo in December 2019 in Accra as the Year of Return initiative was coming to a close. This initiative is a 10-year plan which falls under the theme "A Decade of Renaissance-2020-2030"

The president has vehemently requested that Ghanaians should exhibit the same excitement and commitment as shown during the Year of Return and also work diligently to ensure that diaspora all over the world are actively engaged in this vision.

SNAPSHOTS OF BEYOND THE RETURN

SEE HIGHLIGHTS OF BEYOND THE RETURN

THE IMPORTANCE OF ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was created by the Treaty of Lagos on May 28, 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria. ECOWAS was established to promote cooperation and integration in order to create an economic and monetary union for promoting economic growth and development in West Africa. The 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The main goal of ECOWAS is to promote economic cooperation among member states in order to raise living standards and promote economic development. ECOWAS has also worked to address some security issues by developing a peacekeeping force for conflicts in the region. ECOWAS established its free trade area in 1990 and adopted a common external tariff in January 2015.

In September 2016, USTR hosted ECOWAS officials for the second meeting of the United States-ECOWAS Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council. Among the topics discussed were a review of current activities in support of shared trade and investment objectives, a vision for the ECOWAS – U.S. trade relationship in the medium to long-term, and broadening ECOWAS – U.S. trade and investment cooperation to new areas.

As of September 9th, 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana was elected by the 57th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as the new Chairman of the Authority.

President Akufo-Addo takes over chairmanship from President Mahamadou Issoufou of the Republic of Niger, who steered the activity of the organization for a year.

Note: The Diaspora is the newest ECOWAS region
AFRICAN UNION PASSPORT

As a member of the African Union, you will soon be able to apply for an African Union passport. This passport will allow you to travel to all 54 African countries freely and without the need for individual country visas. The passports were scheduled to be issued by the end of 2020, but with the onset of COVID-19, the program was paused. Read here to find out more details about the ECOWAS passport and what it means for you.

OUR FAVORITE AFROBEATS ARTISTS

Afrobeats is a diverse fusion of various different genres such as British house music, hiplife, hip hop, dancehall, soca, Jùjú music, highlife, R&B, Ndombolo, Naija beats, Azonto, and Palm-wine music. Afrobeats is more of an overarching term for contemporary West African pop music. The term was created in order to package these various sounds into a more easily accessible label, which were unfamiliar to the UK listeners where the term was first introduced.

Afrobeats is most identifiable by its signature driving drum beat rhythms, whether electronic or instrumental. The beat in Afrobeats music is not just a base for the melody, but acts as a major character of the song, taking a lead role that is sometimes equal to or of greater importance than the lyrics and almost always more central than the other instrumentals. Afrobeats shares a similar momentum and tempo to house music. Another distinction within Afrobeats is the notably West African, specifically Nigerian or Ghanaian, accented English that is often blended with local slangs, pidgin English, as well as local Nigerian or Ghanaian languages depending on the backgrounds of the performers.

AFROBEATS ARTISTS

Listen to the sounds of some of our favorite Afrobeats artists:

FELA KUTI

WIZKID

SHATTA WALE

BURNA BOY

YEMI ALADE

MR. EAZI

SARKODIE

R2BEES

TIWA SAVAGE

DAVIDO

THE ASHANTI KINGDOM

The Ashanti Empire was a pre-colonial West African state that emerged in the 17th century in what is now Ghana. The Ashanti or Asante were an ethnic subgroup of the Akan-speaking people, and were composed of small chiefdoms.

The Ashanti established their state around Kumasi in the late 1600s, shortly after their first encounter with Europeans. In some ways the Empire grew out of the wars and dislocations caused by Europeans who sought the famous gold deposits which gave this region its name, the Gold Coast. During this era the Portuguese were the most active Europeans in West Africa. They made Ashanti a significant trading partner, providing wealth and weapons which allowed the small state to grow stronger than its neighbors. Nonetheless when the 18th Century began Ashanti was simply one of Akan-speaking Portuguese trading partners in the region.

That situation changed when Osei Tutu, the Asantehene (paramount chief) of Ashanti from 1701 to 1717, and his priest Komfo Anokye, unified the independent chiefdoms into the most powerful political and military state in the coastal region. The Asantehene organized the Asante union, an alliance of Akan-speaking people who were now loyal to his central authority. The Asantehene made Kumasi the capital of the new empire. He also created a constitution, reorganized and centralized the military, and created a new cultural festival, Odwira, which symbolized the new union. Most importantly, he created the Golden Stool, which he argued represented the ancestors of all the Ashanti. Upon that Stool Osei Tutu legitimized his rule and that of the royal dynasty that followed him.

THE GOLDEN STOOL

Gold was the major product of the Ashanti Empire and Osei Tutu made the gold mines royal possessions. He also made gold dust the circulating currency in the empire. Gold dust was frequently accumulated by Asante citizens, particularly by the evolving wealthy merchant class. However even relatively poor subjects used gold dust as ornamentation on their clothing and other possessions. Larger gold ornaments owned by the royal family and the wealthy were far more valuable. Periodically they were melted down and fashioned into new patterns of display in jewelry and statuary.

If the early Ashanti Empire economy depended on the gold trade in the 1700s, by the early 1800s it had become a major exporter of enslaved people. The slave trade was originally focused north with captives going to Mande and Hausa traders who exchanged them for goods from North Africa and indirectly from Europe. By 1800, the trade had shifted to the south as the Ashanti sought to meet the growing demand of the British, Dutch, and French for captives. In exchange, the Ashanti received luxury items and some manufactured goods including most importantly, firearms.

The consequence of this trade for the Ashanti and their neighbors was horrendous. From 1790 until 1896, the Ashanti Empire was in a perpetual state of war involving expansion or defense of its domain. Most of these wars afforded the opportunity to acquire more slaves for trade. The constant warfare also weakened the Empire against the British who eventually became their main adversary. Between 1823 and 1873, the Ashanti Empire resisted British encroachment on their territory. By 1874, however, British forces successfully invaded the Empire and briefly captured Kumasi. The Ashanti rebelled against British rule and the Empire was again conquered in 1896. After yet another uprising in 1900, the British deposed and exiled the Asantehene and annexed the Empire into their Gold Coast colony in 1902.

Nana Aku and Nuerki visiting the Palace in Kumasi

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Credits:

Created with images by David_Peterson - "ghana peace hand" • LoboStudioHamburg - "twitter facebook together" • TheDigitalArtist - "instagram social media symbol"