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.
Yesterday we celebrated African Liberation Day by making it the day we started Mothusi’s locs. His locs mean many things, they are about liberation. It is about resisting White, capitalistic patriarchal domination and upholding a love and self-acceptance of the African identity. An identity we are currently working on, both of us. We are surrounded by the dominant culture and see what we don’t want to become. So creating what we do want to become is a conscious effort. I am not forcing anything on my son. Self-realization and consciousness-raising comes when the time is right. It doesn’t matter if he has locs and an African name or a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, it is about what is going on within. Once again, it is that internal dialogue and self-direction.
We become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become each day – Richard G. Scott
Internal confidence is the root of changing our self-perception. It does not matter what the dominant culture thinks or how they perceive you. As a liberated, conscious Afrikan you must not be externally directed; and instead, you must be guided by your intuition, your morals and your values. It is not easy when the dominant culture ridicules, abhors and demonizes anything that is Black in order to create a blind reliance and allegiance to what they decide is socially acceptable. This was never meant to include our African history and culture, our unique hair and beautiful melanin-rich skin or include us, as a people, whole. Therefore, we must look to internal clues to guide us away from what represses us, from what tries to obscure the visualization and creation of the liberated Black self, and we must realize this identity.
When I step outside with my hair wrapped in a crown, I am met with darkened scowls and hostility. If my hair is in a bun or a neat ponytail, I am subjected to conditional love and acceptance, on their terms. No, thank you. I will continue to resist and continue to find the true identity of the liberated Afrikan woman. It may make you uncomfortable, but, that is your problem, not mine. JAH blessings.