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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 are continuing to remain safe during this pandemic and that those of you in the United States are exercising your right to vote. This week’s topics include:

  • Traditional weddings in Ghana
  • History of headwraps
  • Chief Nene Lanimo Opata in Pictures
  • When Slaveowners Got Reparations
  • Where I’m From by Halima Elbert
  • Lesotho Independence
  • Right to Abode
  • New Music Alert
  • Products of the Week
  • Let’s Connect on Social Media
GHANA WEDDINGS 🇬🇭

Marriage in Ghanaian culture is considered the official joining of two families so much of the emphasis is placed on obtaining family permissions and blessings before the wedding.

In Ghana, the groom requests permission through a custom known as “knocking on the door.” Bearing gifts, he visits his potential in-laws and he is accompanied by his own family. If his “knock” is accepted, the families celebrate and wedding planning begins.

The knocking ceremony is a traditional informal ceremony in which the groom and his family officially introduce themselves to the bride’s family to ask for her hand in marriage accompanied with bottles of Schnapps (Gin) and some amount of money, depending on the tribes. Depending on family circumstances, this may be anyone from his parents to a senior uncle within the family. The knocking ceremony is used as an occasion to interrogate the intentions of the groom, negotiate bride price, etc. and also to present the list of items required from the groom in order to facilitate the marriage.

The "dowry" is considered by many the most important aspect of the marriage process. The dowry is an exchange of parental property, gifts, or money presented to the bride and her family. The dowry also represents the bride's worth and is apart of societies across Europe, South Asia, and Africa.

After the dowry is accepted by the bride's family, the wedding ceremony can continue and the bride is allowed to be seen.

Some of the activities performed during the wedding ceremony include lots of photography, an abundance of food, gifts presented to the guests, ongoing dancing to exciting music and the popping of champagne bottles.

See one of our favorite Ghanaian traditional weddings!

HISTORY OF HEADWRAPS

Headwraps are traditional attire in many Sub-Saharan African cultures. The Yoruba in Nigeria call their artfully folded wraps geles. Ghanaian women call theirs dukus. South African and Namibian women often use the Afrikaans word doek. Where, when and how headwraps are styled may represent wealth, ethnicity, marital status, mourning or reverence. Despite the dispersal of African communities due to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, emancipation, the Great Migration and globalization, this black hair fashion has stood the test of time and space. The headwrap materially links black women of the West with the traditions of their ancestors, and with their cousins across the Atlantic.

Throughout the antebellum American South, South America and the Caribbean, many slave masters required enslaved black women to wear head coverings. Headscarves served functional purposes like protecting women's scalps from the sun, sweat, grime, and lice. They were also symbolic markers, indicating a slave's inferiority in the social hierarchy of the time period, but enslaved black women found many creative ways to resist. For example, in parts of Central America like Suriname, black women used the folds in their headscarves to communicate coded messages to one another that their masters could not understand.

In the Afro-Creole culture, headwrap traditions are a classic example of turning lemons into lemonade in spite of oppression. In 18th century Louisiana, free mixed-race Creole communities served as a buffer class between powerful whites and enslaved blacks. But as French and Spanish men sought and forced relationships with women of color, race and class lines increasingly diminished. In 1785, Spanish colonial governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró mandated that Afro-Creole women wear tignons, a turban-like headwrap, to undermine their "exotic" allure. Tignon Laws aimed to reaffirm the social order by marking women of color as different. Afro-Creole women protested, decorating their tignons with jewels, ribbons, and feathers. Ultimately, the tignon became a defiant fashion statement for free women of color.

After the United States abolished slavery in 1865, some black American women continued to creatively wear headwraps. However, the style ultimately became associated with servitude and homeliness. The mass production of mammy images like Aunt Jemima wearing a checkered hair tie reinforced such stigmas. To assimilate into the dominant culture, many middle-class and upwardly mobile black women began embracing Eurocentric standards for beauty and professionalism. As a result, wearing headscarves in public was disparaged in early 20th century black communities. However, women continued to wrap their hair in silk or satin scarves at home to preserve pressed hairstyles throughout the week.

During the 1970s, headwraps became a central accessory of the Black Power uniform of rebellion. The headwrap, like the Afro, defiantly embraced a style once used to shame people of African descent. Black is beautiful, the saying went, and kente cloth headwraps were Afrocentric aesthetic celebration.

Why Wear an African Headwrap in 2020?

The headwrap’s crowning glory is its versatility. There are so many reasons to wear a Headwrap including:

  • To protect the hair at night: Many women use silk or satin head scarves instead of a bonnet at night, keeping their hairstyles in place and safe from drying fabrics.
  • To avoid styling your hair during the day: If you don’t feel like doing your hair in the morning (or the night before), large headwraps are a great way to keep your coils in check.
  • To take part in a ceremony: Many African immigrants, inspired by their native culture, wear a tribal head scarf for weddings or other ceremonial events.
  • To express your style: Today, many African American women wear headwraps for style and simplicity. Pre-tied African headwraps are a convenient way to look nice and cover your hair, while the untied versions can be shaped in many unique and attention-grabbing ways.
  • Celebrate African heritage: As more women come to love their natural hair, many have started incorporating fashion headwraps into their daily look as a point of pride. African head coverings (and garments like caftans) are also worn for cultural celebrations.
  • To add style and meaning to church wear: Instead of the traditional Sunday hat, some women prefer to wear a patterned or jeweled headwrap.

No matter what you’re wearing, an African headwrap is a sophisticated, easy way to add color and standout style while celebrating your heritage and unique beauty.

PARAMOUNT CHIEF NENE LANIMO OPATA GREETING GHANA’S FIRST PRESIDENT OSAGYEFO KWAME NKRUMAH.

Chief Opata Speaking at an Assembly
Durbar of Chiefs
Chief Opata with General Kotoka (whom Kotoka International Airport is named for)
Chief Opata with the first president of Indonesia, General Sukarno
Street named after the Chief in Doryumu, Ghana
Chief Opata
Doing an Interview with British Radio
SLAVES NEVER RECEIVED REPARATIONS BUT SLAVEOWNERS DID

Reparations for slavery is the application of the concept of reparations to victims of slavery and/or their descendants. Throughout history, reparations for slavery have been both given by legal ruling in court and/or given voluntarily (without court rulings) by individuals and institutions. Reparations can take numerous forms, including individual monetary payments, settlements, scholarships, waiving of fees, and systemic initiatives to offset injustices, land-based compensation related to independence, apologies and acknowledgements of the injustices, token measures, such as naming a building after someone, or the removal of monuments and renaming of streets that honor slave owners and defenders of slavery.

Despite many calls for reparations, examples of international reparations for slavery consist of recognition of the injustice of slavery and apologies for involvement but no material compensation.

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill emancipating enslaved people in Washington, the end of a long struggle. But to ease slaveowners’ pain, the District of Columbia Emancipation Act paid those loyal to the Union up to $300 for every enslaved person freed.

The act brought to a conclusion decades of agitation aimed at ending what antislavery advocates called "the national shame" of slavery in the nation's capital. It provided for immediate emancipation, compensation to former owners who were loyal to the Union of up to $300 for each freed slave, voluntary colonization of former slaves to locations outside the United States, and payments of up to $100 for each person choosing emigration. Over the next 9 months, the Board of Commissioners appointed to administer the act approved 930 petitions, completely or in part, from former owners for the freedom of 2,989 former slaves.

Although its combination of emancipation, compensation to owners, and colonization did not serve as a model for the future, the District of Columbia Emancipation Act was an early signal of slavery's death. In the District itself, African Americans greeted emancipation with great jubilation. For many years afterward, they celebrated Emancipation Day on April 16 with parades and festivals.

The UK government was far more generous in compensating British companies and families for the loss of the slave trade. The Slave Compensation Commission, which was formed after abolition in the 1830s, awarded thousands of traders a total of £20 million of public money—40% of the government’s annual budget at the time, which was not paid in full until 2015.

In 2014, a coalition of 15 Caribbean countries, where Britain took slaves and extracted resources, presented the UK with a plan for compensation; according to a survey at the time, nearly three-quarters of the British population opposed such payments by European countries for their roles in slavery and colonialism. The government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which oversees diplomacy and international development, said in 2014 that reparations were off the table. “We do not see reparations as the answer,” an FCO spokesman said. “Instead, we should concentrate on identifying ways forward with a focus on the shared global challenges that face our countries in the 21st century.”

France went further by penalizing Haiti for the revolution that abolished slavery in its former colony St. Domingue. It levied a huge sum on the island, which crippled it in decades of debt. Former slaves were forced to pay indemnities to former slaveowners in exchange for official recognition as the first black independent nation-state in the Western Hemisphere.

Halima Elbert

"WHERE I'M FROM" BY HALIMA ELBERT

I’m country, straight out da the south right from the Carolinas.

I got a country accent and I say ain’t and y’all 100 times a day

And no matter where life takes me, whether I end up in another city big or small I’ll never forget where I come from.

This place is where I was born

Where I was raised

Where I started grinding

But this is a place that niggas be dying to get out of and some die trying.

Just like my niggas not too long ago, fighting for change

fighting for justice

Nearly dying to get out before you end up in the sunken place.

Stuck in this place dying and dropping like flies trying to make a way for the future generations of niggas...like my name MLK.

Starting a rebellion for change and a new way to live for niggas...like my name Nat Turner.

Screaming no justice no peace speaking out against police brutality...like Muhiyidin Moye.

Breaking Color barriers...like Barack and Jackie.

Showing niggas if they won’t put you on tv start yo own channel... like Oprah Winfrey.

Showing folks that my black mind is as beautiful as the night sky like...Catherine Johnson.

Proving to niggas that my blackness is the source to healing...like Henrietta Lacks.

We’re evolving everyday my nigga

Pushing and fighting hard for what we want cause of those before us, never forgetting the sacrifices made my nigga

My fellow king or queen

My fellow blacker than black brother or sister.

What the white man meant for evil, my blackness turned into good.

So never forget , you’re beautiful black and blessed.

You’re more than a stereotype.

You come from greatness.

Yo ancestors didn’t fight and die so you could forget .

They supposed to still be living through us .

My blackness is not a weapon but merely my truth and a great testament to how powerful we are as a race just because of who we are.

Dare not be afraid to embrace who you are, where you come from, and the true blackness that lies within.

May this word remind you of Africa and nurture your black souls.

For the culture please don’t forget! Stay woke✊🏽

LESOTHO INDEPENDENCE  🇱🇸

The history of modern Lesotho begins in the early 1800’s when Sotho tribesmen fleeing the armies of the Zulus escaped to the highlands of modern Lesotho. In the 1820’s, they united under King Moeshoeshoe I as a single nation.

From the 1830’s to 1860’s, Boer settlers began encroaching on the Sotho domain, leading to protracted border wars. Finally, Moeshoeshoe I got Britain to make Lesotho a British protectorate to prevent a Boer conquest. This was finalised in 1868.

Later, there were conflicts with Britain and it tried to force Lesotho into union with the rest of its South African colonies. Eventually, Lesotho instead was given internal self-rule in 1960 and gained full independence on October 4, 1966.

On Independence Day, there are many cultural celebrations with colourfully dressed singers and dancers representing their local districts. There is a major patriotic and cultural event that the king, royal family, and high government officials attend.

The area known as Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho (then Basutoland, a British protectorate) was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1871, but became separate again (as a crown colony) in 1884. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, there were moves by the UK to include Lesotho. However, in October 1966, the Kingdom gained full independence. Despite formal independence, the white-controlled government in South Africa played a major role in its neighbour's economic and political affairs, including supporting the government of Lesotho Prime Minister Chief Leabua Jonathan. In 1986, South Africa supported the coup d'état in Lesotho which brought Justin Lekhanya to power. In turn, Lekhanya's government expelled African National Congress members as well as technicians from North Korea, which led to significantly better relations between the two countries.

RIGHT OF ABODE

Right of Abode is akin to an Indefinite Residence Permit. The holder is generally not subject to immigration control and may engage in work or employment without the need to obtain a work permit.

Right of Abode may be granted in one of two ways. The first category may be granted to a citizen who has lost their Ghanaian citizenship by reason of having acquired the citizenship of another country. This scenario often occurs in countries which do not allow dual citizenship. A Ghanaian who wishes to acquire the citizenship of such a country will be required to renounce their Ghanaian citizenship before they will be granted the citizenship of that other country. If such a person wishes to reacquire their Ghanaian citizenship, they may apply and be granted a Right of Abode.

The second category of Right of Abode may be granted to a person of African descent in the Diaspora. Unlike the Ghanaian who has lost their citizenship, a Diaspora must, among other requirements, show that they meet the residency requirement. In other words, they must have resided in Ghana for a minimum period of time before they are eligible to apply.

Since independence in 1957, successive Ghanaian leaders have initiated policies to attract Africans abroad back to Ghana.

In his independence address, the then Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah sought to frame Africa’s liberation around the concept of Africans all over the world coming back to Africa.

Ghana’s parliament passed a Citizenship Act in 2000 to make provision for dual citizenship, meaning that people of Ghanaian origin who have acquired citizenships abroad can take up Ghanaian citizenship if they so desire.

That same year the country enacted the Immigration Act, which provides for a “Right of Abode” for any “Person of African descent in the Diaspora” to travel to and from the country “without hindrance.”

NEW MUSIC ALERT

“ CEO Flow” by Sarkodie feat. E-40

“Fuck SARS” by Shatta Wale

“Purpose” by Zakisha Brown

Nigerian AfroBeats Mix

“Real-Life” by Burna Boy

PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK

NEW AFRICAN PRINT SOCKS

Credits:

Created with images by FirmBee - "facebook social media media" • Minakel2003 - "smartphone instagram phone"