reAfricanization – Attire

I recently went out on Etsy and purchased some African traditional attire for my 2 year old son and I. It is one thing to believe in Pan-African values, but it is another to actually make it a daily part of your life, or rather integrate it into your life to the point that Western culture has very little effect on you. By dressing in African attire, it serves as a conscious reminder that we are Africans with a culture and heritage living in the Diaspora, to ourselves and those we encounter. 

    Just as we may acknowledge an Indian in a kurta, or a Tibetan Buddhist with prayer beads, we can be proud in the fact we have a heritage and culture as well. When I am wearing a crown, or a Kente print dress, I feel a great deal of pride in my African ethnicity and culture. I am not here to compete with people who created their own Western ideal, I am here to experience the culture that was created for me by my people, this is my birthright.

   Should Africans dress like Africans even though we may live in New Jersey, or Vancouver or Amsterdam? It’s really up to you, there are Africans from the Motherland who wear African attire for special occasions and some who wear African attire 24/7. It’s really up to the individual. As a Canadian-born African, the desire to wear African attire is completely motivated by my love of my people and culture and a desire to unite with other Africans. It is also motivated by a need to rediscover what an African identity looks like for someone who has been removed from the Motherland for so many generations. I cherish everything I can get my hands on to piece together that identity whether it’s a story of my great-grandmother or an African headscarf. 

Lose the Fear

Ten years ago, I was so white. I was the whitest most white-washed Black girl there ever could be. I had piercings, wore Black lipstick, listened to scream-o and rock and the Beatles; I swore by Starbucks and cocaine parties with skinny, rich white girls and dated white women and white men. 

  I have never heard of Langston Hughes or bell hooks. I had yet to read The Old Negro, and the New Negro by Malcolm X and I had about zero contact with Black women except to smile patronizingly at a retail clerk while shopping. I had my head in Cloud Self Hate. 

Now, I am repulsed by white men. I am repulsed by their white privilege and power, surrounding me in a predominantly white town. I have lost my fear of what the white man thinks. I have lost his control on me. I am proud to wear African clothing and accessories. I am proud to stop, drop everything to speak to a sister or brother. I wear my hair as a statement of self-love and resistance. 

   It is hard to lose the fear, it weighs us down but we have so much to gain by being fearless and unapologetically Black. By uniting and uplifting each other, that is more powerful than trying to fit in with the WASPs, with the artsy crowd or whatever culture you think you fit into. And no, maybe eating bush meat and being one of three wives isn’t your thing, but we as Africans do have a culture and identity and we are the ones who get to define it and indulge in it shamelessly. 

   I will never feel shame or fear for connecting with an African person. That disconnect is a psychological response from white supremacist indoctrination. There’s no way that a small minority of people can control us if we unite. And so, we must move past our fears and anxieties, and we must unite. 

Learning Asante Twi

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As part of my reAfricanization I have chosen to learn the Akan language Twi, of the Asante dialect. Here is why I chose this language, and I encourage all my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to dedicate time and effort in learning a language from the Motherland.

Why: I chose Asante Twi because I found other languages such as Bambara and Amharic very difficult to learn. Twi just felt right on a spiritual level.

How: I am teaching myself using the Internet and by making a homemade Twi language book. I also practice by teaching my son the language, too.

Goal: I began studying Twi in the summer and hope to begin constructing simple sentences by Kwanzaa, and be fluent in 1 year.

 

Twi Progress

Learning an African language is an important aspect of reAfricanization and one I take so seriously that I don’t even want English spoken in my house, just Asante Twi or other African dialects (I’m dating an African man who speaks both Twi and Yoruba). Learning an African language isn’t easy because I do not have the opportunity to practice my Asante Twi very often since I live in a small, rural town. 

However, if you are dedicated to learning an African language, there is a lot of resources and all it takes is determination, practice and discipline. I found that this comprehensive website is very thorough and has a lot of information, as well as being a reAfricanization website who’s purpose is to assist the African in the Diaspora in their journey. Here Here is a basic Twi language website that’s great because it has pronunciation from an African, and not some random bot. 

  There are a number of Asante Twi and other language apps. I use Twi Junior which is good for beginners, and Twi Proverbs which is just nice to have. My goal is to memorize the Asante proverbs I like. I also listen to Ghanaian music on YouTube although it’s not 100% certain the songs are all in that dialect, but the music is actually good and upbeat and puts me in the right mind frame when I’m studying Twi. The best tutorial on YouTube is GoldCoastDebuty. She makes learning Twi fun! 

I hope to be fluent in Asante Twi by Kwanzaa this year, and I believe in everybody young and old who are reconnecting with their African roots! We can do this! 
 

Dating a Black Man

It is ironic that I had to go to the whitest town I have ever lived in to meet the Blackest man I’ve ever met. Yes, my African king is from the Motherland, what some may call a “freshie” but in my opinion, it’s just refreshing.

We are taught to hate what we fear, and we are taught to hate Black love. But we were not taught the truth by our oppressors. Black love, the love between two Black people, should be revered. It is a beautiful, sacred and important thing. Black love heals the nation, it brings us closer to our heritage and history and unifies the Black people. We cannot be strong as a people if we are fragmented off in the name of multiculturalism. 

If I had not opened myself up to the importance of Black love, which came later because I have been taught my Black brothers are inferior, I would have missed the opportunity to meet my king. But now I see that not only are Black brothers desirable and should be sought after, but that they should hold precedence over other races because Black love is natural. And an alienation from Black love means perhaps we need to do a bit more self-love and give a brother a chance as well.

  I’m not saying Black love is easy. It takes trust, dialogue and commitment to overcome the negative ideas associated with Black men and to relearn or learn how to have a healthy relationship with men of colour. What words should we use to describe and name each other? Words have power. We have to lift each other up and understand that despite the circumstances in our lives, we can work together to overcome them and solidify the bond between two Black people. 

As they say, once you go back Black, you never go back. Well I say, if it’s not Black love it’s tragic, because Black love is magic. And I’m not putting down interracial couples, I’m not. Listen, I come from the most diverse city in the world–Toronto. I get it. And if the one for you is from a different ethnicity, that is alright! But where once many sisters, tired of the playa playa act, turned to other cultures for marriage, respect and monogamy; I believe that we need to scrutinize what Black love really is, how powerful the potential of Black love is personally and collectively and build upon that. 

More Knowledge

There is something about being in a room full of books by revolutionaries and leaders of movements of liberation. There is a revolutionary spirit and it awakens you to the work you need to do.

I like to write, but what can I write if I am not continually learning and evolving? Right now I am reading one of my newest books Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom by Brian Morris. Dr. Huey P. Newton wrote in Revolutionary Suicide that we can learn to liberate ours


elves as the African people by studying the way other oppressed people have liberated themselves in their respective countries and adapt those strategies to our circumstances. . Maybe the past has the answers, and we have access to that information. Now, if only we can get in formation and all decide to do something about it. See you soon! 

Focus On: Black Love

I will never give up on love, the hope of that conquest energizes me with a new high that shatters my equilibria and turns my world topsy-turvy with the possibility this might the one. I have always believed I will find true love, mainly and honestly, because I’m not that picky. 

    I have always, since I reached puberty, been slutshamed for my enthusiasm at finding love. It is not that I was particularly sexual, if anything I was the aloof Black nerd with my head stuck in a book, not in someone’s crotch. But, if I was attracted to someone, I would obsess and analyze and hope. The boy next door. The youth pastor in church. The guy who walks his Lab in the park at 6pm every day. The barista at Starbucks studying at university with those irresistible eyes and that sad smile. The landlord. That heroic single dad. Your 40 something professor with the motorcycle and disheveled jeans. The guy on Plenty of Fish with a strong, charming game. 

  I am focusing solely on Black love, on finding a Black man in the same na├»ve way I have loved and hoped for love. Because it really shouldn’t be that complicated. There should be no harsher criticisms, no down low police checks, no double standards. If anything, if a Black man is up and coming and not quite there yet, with you by his side, what a powerful testament to the strength of Black love if you both persevered together. And vice versa. I’m tired of dipping my hands in the vanilla and butterscotch cookie jar, because it’s not satisfying me. I want a dark chocolate cookie. 

  And, Black man, I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. But we have potential, untapped potential, for greatness that will never be realized or come to fruition if we are hostile towards each other and do not do the work to have dialogue and trust with each other. Black man, I’m proud of you because I know what you have been through and I see what you are capable of. I’m working on respecting you, on loving you. I say with great conviction, there is none more natural than a Black woman for a Black man. I won’t stop until I find you.