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

Welcome to this week’s I Feel Sooo....African newsletter! We hope that you had a prosperous week and are continuing to take care of yourself during this pandemic. This week’s topics include:

  • What is Kitenge fabric?
  • Nigeria celebrates their independence
  • What’s behind the flyer in every order
  • History of Shea Butter (And it’s role in slavery)
  • Jerusalema Phenomena
  • Covid-19 in the African-American community
  • Africviews.com
  • Dear white people
  • Products of the week
Kitenge Fabric

Kitenge fabric, or wax print fabric is a popular cultural fabric in East, West and Central Africa. Kitenge was often worn by women wrapped around the chest or waist, over the head as a headscarf, or as a baby sling.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, and Democratic Republic of the Congo are the primary African countries where kitenge is worn. In Malawi, Namibia, and Zambia, kitenge is known as Chitenge. It is sometimes worn by men around the waist in hot weather.

The versatile fabric is 100% cotton, and helps you stay cool in hot climates and warm in cold climates. Kitenge fabrics have become associated with African culture due to their vibrancy, patterns, and hidden meanings. Wearers often showcase the beautiful wax fabric to convey meaning and social status, or as a symbol during local traditions such as marriage.

Here are just a few of the uses and reasons why people wear Kitenge:

  • In Malawi, Kitenge is customary for women at funerals.
  • In Kenya, the Kitenge festival is a popular event held periodically and is meant to highlight the varied uses of Kitenge fabric.
  • It is used as a sling to hold a baby across the back of a mother. They can hold the baby at the front as well, particularly when breastfeeding.
  • Vitenge (plural) are given as gifts to young women by friends and relatives.
  • Vitenge are sometimes tied together and used as decorative pieces at dinner tables.
  • When women go to the beach, often the Kitenge is wrapped around the bathing suit for modesty or to shield cold air. They are also useful when changing and can be used as a towel and blanket to sit on.
  • Women often wear kitenge wrapped around their waist like an apron when cooking, washing clothes, and cleaning.
  • Women also wear kitenge wrapped around their body when they go to the bathroom to have a shower and for sleeping in.
Samples of Kitenge Patterns

60 YEARS OF FREEDOM

European influence in modern-day Nigeria began in the 16th century when the first explorers from Spain and Portugal began trading with locals, leading to the development of ports such as Lagos. The British became an increasingly dominant influence on the region in the late 19th century through the Royal Niger Company, resisting German attempts to expand in the region.

In 1900, the territories under the control of the Royal Niger Company became the Southern Nigeria Protectorate. In 1914, this was combined with the Northern Nigeria Protectorate to create the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, which forms the borders of modern-day Nigeria.

Many aspects of modern life in Nigeria were established under the period of British Rule, but by the middle of the 20th century, the call for independence sweeping across Africa and the decline of the territories in the British Empire led to Nigeria being granted independence on October 1st 1960, under a constitution with a parliamentary government and a degree of autonomy for the country's three regions.

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Nigeria marked total independence from Britain when it became a federal republic and a new constitution was adopted on October 1st, 1963 with Nnamdi Azikiwe as its first president.

Political unrest led to a series of military coups in 1966 and Nigeria was ruled by a military junta with the democratic rule not being restored until October 1st 1979.

THE FLYER IN EVERY ORDER

This is the flyer that goes in every order at I Feel Sooo....African and it has significance. Growing up in Laurinburg, NC, I never appreciated the fact that I had an uncommon name and I absolutely, never ever had to worry about anybody else having my name in any of my classes or anywhere I went for that matter. Having such an unusual name was always a source of contention for me because I constantly found myself having to pronounce it many times over, having to phonetically sound it out, having it mispronounced all the time. I’ve been called Hakunah Matata and even Ms. Pot of Beans so I always wondered why in the world my parents had to give me a name that was seemingly so difficult and that I would always have to explain.

I was always knew when my name was being called on the roll in school because there was the inevitably long, awkward silence and the teacher would stare at the paper trying to figure out what to call me. I would always chime in and say “Nuekie Aku Opata” and they would always smile and say yes, thank you and then proceed to practice on exactly how to tackle my name for the rest of the year. After presenting at a city council meeting a few years ago, I realized that many people still do not know how to pronounce my name or know that it has a specific meaning (I live in the same small town of my birth hence the familiarity). The mayor did an excellent job of trying to pronounce it and I was tickled because I instantly had memories of my teachers attempting to get it right.

When I was installed as Queen Mother of Development in 2014, I had a name change. I went from being known as Nuekie Aku Opata to Nana Noyam Manye Opata II. It was a surreal moment for me to go through such a rich cultural experience but for the first time I understood other people’s struggle with my name. I had the hardest time trying to remember my new name, trying to say it, and I have just recently been able to spell it correctly without having to double check it. I am the second Queen to carry this title.

But after years of being in a land where I was the only person with my name, I traveled to Ghana in the summer of 2014 and instantly realized that not only was my name common, but there were literally hundreds of women named Nuekie, thousands of women named Aku, and so many different sets of Opatas. Then there were the various pronunciations and spellings to go along with it. So to now be in a place where my name is as common as Leslie or George, I instantly felt connected and at home, not out of place like I had so many times before. What I learned about my name and the names of my other family members gave me an instant appreciation of my family’s heritage and I now know that each name has a specific meaning, tied to a specific clan, culture, village, division, and region.

My family is a part of the tribe known as the Ga-adangmes, from the greater Accra region. The Ga-adangmes are made up of the Shai people, which I hail from and the place where my grandfather, Paramount Chief Nene Opata II, reigned from 1945-1970.

PARAMOUNT CHIEF NENE OPATA II WITH FIRST PRESIDENT OF GHANA, KWAME NKRUMAH

The Shai people currently live in the Shai Hills and the capital is Dodowa. The region is divided into three separate areas, the Heowe (where my family comes from), Deowye (capital is Lkepeje), and Homer (capital is Agomeda). There are also nine different clans among the Heowe and the Opata family is a part of the Blonyawem division. The Blonyawem, a part of the Hewoe of Dodowa, derived from the Shai tribe and have an intricate naming system. Names vary with spelling and pronunciation and from region to region, but they are still similar.

The Shai naming system is as follows: If you are born on:

•Monday (girl- Adoja, boy- Kwajo)

•Tuesday (girl- Abena, boy-Kwabena)

•Wednesday (girl- Aku, boy- Kwaku)

•Thursday ( girl-Yaa, boy-Yaw)

•Friday (girl-Afi, boy- Kofi)

•Saturday(girl-Ama, boy-Kwame)

•Sunday (girl-Esi, boy-Kwesi)

Among the Blonyawem, naming is then further defined by birth order. The 1st born girl is Nuekie, 2nd born is Nuekuor, 3rd born is Maalmle, 4th born is Maku, 5th born is Lajer. The males are -1st born is Nuertey, 2nd born is Tetteh, 3rd born is Tei, 4th born is Narh, 5th born is Narteh, and 6th born is Naggeh.

My birth name, Nuekie Aku Opata, essentially means first born female born on a Wednesday, daughter of the Opata royal family of the Blonyawem, a part of the Hewoe of Dodowa, derived from the Shai tribe. Although I was born and raised in Laurinburg to a wonderful loving family and a supportive and inclusive community, I literally had to travel halfway across the world to discover who I truly was and gain an appreciation for my name and heritage.

QUEEN MOTHER NANA NOYAM MANYE II

And to think, my whole life I wanted my mom to change my name to Teresa, which is of Spanish and Portuguese descent meaning ”to harvest”. Teresa is a beautiful name but I am so very grateful that my parents chose to give me an authentic Ghanaian name that reflects and defines who I am and where my roots lie.

GHANA FLAG

THEY DID WHAT WITH SHEA BUTTER?

Salaga, in northern Ghana was the site of a major slave market. Today, there are still descendants of people who were slaves. The history is vivid in peoples's minds.

"Ouamkam means bathing. Bayou means slave. So literally it means 'Bathing slaves.' This is the place where all the slaves were bathed. They would bathe them here, rub them with shea butter and make them shine, and they gave them food to eat, to make them look big; then they'd take them to the slave market for sale."

THOMAS FULLER, AN ENSLAVED AFRICAN MAN

The shea tree grows naturally in the wild in the dry savannah belt of West Africa from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east, and onto the foothills of the Ethiopian highlands. It naturally occurs in 21 countries across the African continent, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Guinea.

Shea butter is mainly used in the cosmetics industry for skin- and hair-related products (lip gloss, lip stick, skin moisturizer creams and emulsions, and hair conditioners for dry and brittle hair). It is used by soap makers and massage oil manufacturers, it is an excellent emollient for dry skin, and it also alleviates the pain associated with tightness and itching.

Think you want to try Shea butter? We have various fragrances and compositions here at I FEEL SOOO.....AFRICAN.

And if you put in the code OCTOBERHERBS at checkout, you will receive 50% off of your product.

RAW SHEA BUTTER
PACKAGING SHEA BUTTER

In some African countries such as Benin, shea butter is used for cooking oil, as a waterproofing wax, for hairdressing, for candle-making, and as an ingredient in medicinal ointments. It is used by makers of traditional African percussion instruments to increase the durability of wood (such as carved djembe shells), dried calabash gourds, and leather tuning straps.

In Ghana, shea butter locally known as Kpakahili (English translation means raw cream) in Dagbani, nkuto (Akan) or nku (Ga), is either used as a food product or applied as lotion to protect the skin during the dry Harmattan season. The shea nut tree itself is called tááŋà and the fruit is called táánì. The current northern regional capital Tamale, derives it names from a combination of the words "tama" and "yili", meaning "the town of shea fruits".

WOMEN IN TAMALE, GHANA WITH SHEA NUTS

In Nigeria, shea butter is used for the management of sinusitis and relief of nasal congestion. It is massaged into joints and other parts of the body where pain occurs.

Watch Wode Maya’s heart wrenching video on “The Last Bath Of Our Ancestors”.

GOSPEL-HOUSE HIT JERUSALEMA

Jerusalema" is a song by South African DJ and record producer Master KG featuring South African vocalist Nomcebo, which has gone viral. The upbeat gospel-influenced house song was initially released on November 29th, 2019 after it garnered positive response online, with a music video following on December 21st. It was later included on Master KG's second album of the same title, released in January 2020. It was eventually released on streaming services on July 10th, 2020 after it went viral, garnering international reaction due to the #JerusalemaChallenge. A remix featuring Nigerian singer Burna Boy was released in June, propelling the song onto the US Billboard charts. It has since reached number one in Belgium, Romania and Switzerland, while peaking in the top ten of multiple other European countries.

Watch Jerusalema and feel why the world has fallen in love with this South African gem.

AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND COVID-19

Black Americans continue being infected with COVID-19 at nearly three times the rate of white Americans, according to a new document from the National Urban League. The report, based on data from Johns Hopkins University, also shows black Americans are twice as likely to die from the virus.

According to the "State of Black America," the infection rate for blacks is 62 per 10,000, compared with 23 per 10,000 for whites. Latinos see even more infections: 73 per 10,000.

During the early months of the pandemic, the report asserts that blacks were more likely to have preexisting conditions that make them susceptible them to COVID-19 infection, less likely to have health insurance, and more likely to work in jobs that do not accommodate remote work.

INFECTION RATES BY RACE

READ AN IN-DEPTH REPORT OF HOW COVID-19 IS AFFECTING PEOPLE OF COLOR

Need to boost your immune system in the midst of COVID-19? Try our best selling products:

*****TODAY THROUGH OCTOBER 15th, ALL HERBAL PRODUCTS ARE 50% OFF!! USE CODE OCTOBERHERBS AT CHECKOUT. CANNOT BE USED WITH ANY OTHER PROMOTIONS*****

Let’s support our brother Oti Samuel, a fellow Pan-African and IT professional who launched the site AfricViews.com. AfricView is the place for free thinking and progressive Pan Africans to gather, share, uplift, and teach.
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE BY PATRICK BENJAMIN

"DEAR WHITE PEOPLE: IF YOU HAVE EVER SAID ANY OF THESE THINGS THEN YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM

1. “It’s awful but…”

No. No buts. In the English language, the word “but” is often used to deflect or to justify behavior. Police murdering black people in the street is awful. Period. End. of. discussion.

2. “I support the movement but not these disruptive protests…”

No, you don’t. Right now the movement is taking the form of disruptive protests. They’re the same thing. You either want police to stop murdering black people in the street, or you don’t. If you do, then support the protests – even if you find them disruptive and frustrating – because that’s black people fighting for their lives.

3. “All lives / White lives matter too…”

No one said they didn’t. The conversation is specifically about black lives right now because police are murdering them in the street. Until police stop doing that, and White people stop dismissing it, it’s not “All lives Matter”, it’s “MOST lives matter.” It’s not “ALL Lives” until Black Lives Matter too. Stay focused.

4. “There are good cops…”

This isn’t about the actions of individuals. It’s about systemic, state-sanctioned violence against black people and other people of color. In fact, racism – historically and currently – is so embedded in policing that even if there weren’t any bad cops, racism and racist police practices would still exist. Police forces are there to protect and advance the status quo. Period. The same so-called “good cops” who are sharing BLM hashtags and are kneeling with you now, won’t think twice about kneeling on your neck at a later time. And if you think you’re a good cop, but are silent when confronted with human rights abuses, then how good are you?

5. “I don’t support the looting and destruction…”

No one says you have to, but please stop acting like looting nullifies the entire protest. And definitely stop acting like looting is “just as bad.” That’s like comparing someone stealing your car to someone murdering your child. They’re not equally bad. Stop pretending they are. Police murdering black people in the street is definitely worse than robbing a Target.

6. “Just because I’m white doesn’t mean my life has been easy…”

Of course not. Everyone struggles. But being white has never been one of those struggles. Being poor is a struggle. Being handicapped is a struggle. Being a woman is a struggle. Being gay is a struggle. Being an immigrant is a struggle. But being white has never been a struggle. The same can’t be said for people of color. I could go on and on about white privilege but it would be so much easier if you educated yourself instead. This isn’t about how you, a white, cisgender, straight man or woman has suffered in your life. This is about police murdering black people in the street. Stop trying to make it about you.

7. “I really wish they would protest peacefully…”

Of course you do. They’re easier to ignore that way. And what you really want is for them to die more quietly. People of color have been peacefully protesting for hundreds of years. It hasn’t been all that successful. The reason riots and violent demonstrations work is because it makes people – especially white people – uncomfortable. You can’t ignore them when they’re waving torches in your faces. It scares you. It puts you on edge. Which is exactly where you need to be. People only pay attention to the extreme. If you have trouble recalling a single one of the hundreds of peaceful protests that BLM held across North America last year, but you can still recall, with crystal clarity, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, then you’ve just proven my point.

8. “I don’t see color…”

Congratulations! You’re lying to yourself. Of course you see color. And that’s good! Black people want you to see their color. Their colors are beautiful and the very foundation of who they are. If you don’t see their color, then you also don’t see their culture. If you don’t see color then you erase their very identity. If you don’t see their color, then you also can’t see the pattern of violence they’re confronted with every day. If you don’t see color, then you’re blind to more than just racial injustice. You’re blind to the world.

9. “They shouldn’t have committed a crime…”

This one is a big one for me. Consider me triggered. A boy who steals a can of pop from a 7-11 does not deserve to be shot in the back – three times. A man illegally selling CD’s on a street corner doesn’t deserve to be shot to death in front of a record store. A man selling cigarettes on the street does not deserve to be strangled on the streets of Staten Island. A man who runs a red light does not deserve to be shot while reaching for his registration. This isn’t about their crimes, this is about racialized policing. Stay on topic.

10. “Black people kill white people too…”

Yes, murderers exist in every race and walk of life. But, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking police brutality, and the reality is, black officers are not murdering unarmed white men in the street. That seems to be almost exclusively white officer behavior. Stop gaslighting.

If any of you are guilty of saying any of the above, then I have unsettling news for you. You are the reason it has come to this. You are the reason peaceful protests haven’t worked. They haven’t worked because you haven’t been listening. You haven’t been learning. These riots are happening because you have left black people no other choice.

These riots are happening because no matter how black people have said it: taking a knee, marching the streets, bumper stickers, banners, signs, or chants, you still don’t get it. That doesn’t mean you’re bad people. That doesn’t mean you’re racist. It only means you’re white. And that’s not a crime, any more than being black is. The difference is, police aren’t going to shoot you in the street for it."

Written By,

Patrick Benjamin

PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK

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Created with images by Brett Jordan - "iphone, ios, home screen, close up, pixels, retina, smartphone, icon, facebook" • John091 - "phone screen instagram"