Yesterday I tried fufu for the first time, and it was pretty delicious. It wasn’t something I grew up eating in a Caribbean household. I didn’t learn anything about Africa in my home despite the fact that my family is very dark-skinned and obviously our roots are African. My family has always looked down on Africans and had some kind of crazy assumption that they all do voodoo. So, growing up, I never really learned about Africa. It’s only in the recent years that I’ve been learning about African history and African culture, and wishing genuinely that I had been more aware of African culture, and African history as well. Even now that I’m marrying a Ghanaian, other Ghanaians often seem surprised that I can speak Twi and I love Kumawood films. They believe that Canadians of Caribbean descent are not interested in Africa–but the truth is–many of us are shunning Eurocentric cultures and wish to connect with our roots in respectful and humble ways.
Solidarity between African-American, African and Caribbean people is needed more than ever. An achievement by a Black person should be seen as an achievement for us all, whether they came from Nigeria or Jamaica or Baltimore. We need to help each other out and unify. Americans need to tell Africans to boycott all the KFC restaurants popping up like crazy all over Ghana and other countries. That fried chicken is not linked to a better social status, however, it is linked to obesity and heart disease. It could be a very clever ploy to kill more Black bodies. If Africa wants first world social status, they need to get in on the organic health food kick, get in on fitness and things that will add years to your life–not end it. Africans that are making African languages accessible to the Diaspora, Africans that are collaborating in business and tech fields with Black people in the Diaspora are helping unify us and make us stronger. We have to learn about our different historical pasts, our unique cultures and find a way to connect.
We have a great advantage–numbers. When you combine all the Black people in Africa, the Caribbean islands, America and Brazil (and Canada–I mean hey, can’t leave myself out! Joking, but no, we are truly doing things in Toronto and Montreal due to the diversity there), you have numbers. Before another endemic happens that will be lethal to more Black bodies on any continents, we need to get together and make sure we have each other’s backs. There’s so much happening in the world that is ending Black lives–from police brutality to slavery in Libya to the “ideal” mulatto child that is erasing the Black race and replacing it with a much more palatable, bronze-skinned and ringlet-haired race. And it’s up to us to wake up our brothers and sisters, and just be like, “We have our differences, but I got you.”
My almost four-year-old son is enjoying his second week of martial arts. It’s one of the few places and times that he is focused, disciplined and strives to try harder. In general, my son is boisterous and confident–and martial arts is a great way to channel that energy! Bruce Lee himself was a defiant, strong-willed kid, and he grew up to become a legend.
We need outlets for our Black children, and the opportunity to let their personalities shine. We cannot squash their strong-will and defiance–indeed, these are qualities that can prove to be beneficial when given the right conduit. The most courageous, impactful leaders did not arise from timid, perfect children. I am not a perfect parent, and I’m often exasperated and at my wit’s end with my headstrong boy. I’m glad martial arts can provide an avenue for self-discipline and focus.
Part of the re-Africanization process is learning your culture, and your roots. You really couldn’t do that without paying attention to the food!It is true that Africa is not a country, but a continent, with many different cuisines. However, the basis of the African diet seems consistent as you can see here.
As the African Heritage Diet Pyramid illustrates, this diet is based on whole, fresh plant foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens; tubers like yams and sweet potatoes; beans of all kinds; nuts and peanuts; rice, ﬂatbreads and other grain foods, especially whole grains; healthy oils; homemade sauces and marinades of herbs and spices; ﬁsh, eggs, poultry and yogurt. It’s naturally low in processed sugar, unhealthy types of fats, and sodium, and includes only small amounts of meats and sweets.
Growing up on a West Indian diet, we ate a lot of the foods that West Africans eat with the exception of fufu. We all have our variations of soups, stews and rice. And we tend to boil our provisions while West Africans tend to mash theirs. We also don’t use teff or sorghum. It’s very simple then, for a West Indian to adopt an African diet particularly since Caribean and African grocers offer many of the same foods, spices and oils. However, if you were raised on a more Western diet, it will take some time to learn to cook like an African.
I have made it a goal to perfect one new African recipe a month. This month I would start easy with omo tuo (rice balls) from Ghana, usually served with fufu and a variety of soups! It’s something I know both my son and I would enjoy.
Last week, my preschooler son started kung fu classes in our small town. He is quite into martial arts, but we see predominately Asian people in kung fu movies and shows and I thought I could explain that yes, Black people do have a martial arts system. All civilizations developed their own combative systems, and guess what? African has ancient martial arts, as well. He just won’t hear about African Montu Arts, as readily. Luckily, he has me for a mother.
Where human civilization began was in Africa, so the fighting combative systems originated in Africa by the earliest tribes of the Kemites and the Nubians. -Jonathan Bynoe
Jonathan goes into detail about the African origins of Montu Arts here and it’s quite interesting. Martial arts in Africa include: laamb (Senegal), dambe (Hausa tribe, Nigeria), tahtib (Egypt), Suri (Ethiopia) and Nguni (Zulu tribe). To be honest, dambe looks pretty brutal and no–I don’t want my only son partaking in dambe tournaments. It doesn’t hurt, however, that he’s aware of the ancient African martial arts and the culture around the different styles like stick fighting or wrestling in a becoming-a-man ceremony. Malcolm X did state that Black men need to be able to defend themselves, and what better way then with martial arts?
I personally chose martial arts for my son to teach him focus, respect and self-discipline. He is naturally good at it, but more importantly–he loves it. And I hope when he goes to his next class tomorrow, he is armed with the knowledge that not only do Black people have our own martial arts, we have strong origins in martial arts.
I’ve recently become interested in Chinese history, particularly the Second Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945. The unity and strategies of the Chinese people are truly admirable–despite their political differences, they still came together against one enemy: the Japanese. It’s something that Black people can really learn from. Chinese traditions and history runs deep, and these people know their culture. Unlike Black people, whose connection to their origins has been severed. It truly shows how important it is to know and honour our African traditions, and history. It is Chinese pride that kept the Chinese fighting stubbornly enough to gain allied help. It is African pride that should unite us all–and keep us fighting–for Black liberation.
We are so fragmented, all pitched against the other. Africans against West Indians, Black Americans against immigrant Black, etc. When will we understand we are all one and that we have a common oppressor? Of course, many Black people have risen to wealth, but unless the Black nations are liberated–Black people are oppressed. And there is no liberation without unity. You can say what you want about a Chinese person–but they have been taught to be proud of their Chinese heritage. And you will see Chinese helping Chinese. You will see the Chinese ready to fight for China. It’s time that Africans learn from the East.