Black History Month with Midway City Friends (Quakers) in California, USA: Fighting to sever the poor

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For Black History Month 2020, I just donated to a Church that is fighting for the poor who are mostly Black and Brown human beings. The church’s senior leadership wants to sell their property for profit and since the neighborhood is now mostly wealthy white folks, they reported the pastors for littering their community with poor people. I believe it is the responsibility of the Church to care for the “least of these” also this is my way of celebrating Black History Month, by giving a little token of appreciate for  Quakers,’ involvement in fighting for Blacks/Africans’ rights to be human beings during the horrific period of slavery. Mind you during this period, most white Christians supported slavery, so Quakers, were ahead of their white counterparts. I hope the powers on top remember who they were and what made them great men and women of God. Shout out to the local pastors Joe and Cara Pfeiffer  for their willingness to sand by the side of the poor. Love and respect to them. ( Pls, if you feel led, donate below)

https://www.gofundme.com/f/6h8rhk-midway-city-friends-legal-fund?d=DtmuGNy3HpyfTi7Dk0tdAe%2F7CXGhy5eOx8cPd48fViA%3D

Poverty in California, USA

 

My thoughts on Kwanzaa as an African Woman and upcoming event

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Growing up in rural Northern Nigeria, I attended several cultural events, while in the diaspora I missed that and being a minority by race and ethnicity ( I am not Yoruba or Ibo, many times marginalized by them because I apparently “don’t look” or “sound Nigerian.”…the rubbish is real ) With that type of experience, as a PanAfricanist I didn’t let the nonsense bother me, besides I understood the power of as Fela would put it, “colo-mental” in fact it helped expand my African family. I befriended Afrocentric African-Americans/Blacks who introduced me to Kwamzaa, for over a decade I celebrated and sponsored it. To those in this area of Illinois, Galesburg. The Institute for Pan African Unity is having an event on Saturday January 25th, 10am -12:00 pm at their local library. Go eat FREE African and Soul food, celebrate African culture in America and those ancestors such as Dr. MLK jr, Ida B. Bells, Nina Simone, MalcolmX etc….ase, ase, ase.

Kwanzaa in Galesburg 2019

 

Full Scholarship to Study at Duke Divinity School

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My thoughts:

Christians (many) over centuries have used their religion for evil such as oppressing others in the forms of slavery, sexism, colonialism, feminism, education, imperialism etc. On the hand, some have used their faith to bring about justice, reconcile God with humanity. If you believe you can use Christianity, as a pastor to positively transform society, the full scholarship below is for you. Apply to Duke Divinity school ( I earned one of my degrees at Duke, it is not perfect esp. when it comes to dealing with institutional and systemic racism, but I think this is a good move on their path. A way to attract low income students who are often Black/African, Brown…)

African Dance and Music: Kids Safe

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Weeks ago I completed teaching a course I called, “The Wonders of Africa.” The essence of  the class was to introduce young people to African philosophies. For example:  Food, music, art, dance, indigenous spiritualities, fashion etc. Despite Eurocentric bombardment of  ideas in the United States, I was surprised that my students had room for new worldview. Parents reported how their kids would not stop talking about what they have learned.This, motivated me to continue sharing, instilling positive, affirming black/ African portraits.

I am humbled. I hope this short catalog of  dance and music from the continent of Africa and its diaspora nurtures and thrills your kids as they did my students. I dedicate this write up to my 2017 students, particularly to the brilliant- beautiful daughters of Africa, Sankara and Della for persisting everyday, “Yoknyam, please play, ‘Natural Girls.’ ”

  1.  Natural Girl by Mzvee ft.Stonebwoy  ( Ghana, West Africa)
  2.  Black and Proud – Nah Bleach ( Jamaica, Caribbean) 
  3. Mama Africa by Bracket ( Nigeria, West Africa)
  4.  Khona by Mafikizolo ft Uhuru ( South Africa, Southern Africa)
  5. Doundounba Dance  ( Conakry, West Africa)
  6. Sangaan, Makishi and Nyau Dance ( Zimbabwe, Southern Africa)
  7. Revelations’ by Alvin Ailey  ( African-American, U.S.A)
  8. Capoeira , African Martial Art/Dance (Brazil, South America)
  9.  Shupe  by Mc Galaxy  ( Nigeria, West Africa)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A thought: Protect Yourself from Rape

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“Rape campaigner live-blogged her own ‘sexual assault’ – just minutes after alleged attack took place – to set an example for other survivors who ‘need to speak up’

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Amber Amour is a  black American woman  who went to South Africa to  promote her anti-rape campaign. One would think she is armed with basic cultural knowledge. Amour decided to shower with her male neighbor. Apparently the man asked and she said yes!
“I said yes because the water at my current hostel is pretty cold and after two days of being sick, I just really wanted a hot shower…As soon as I got in the bathroom, he forced me to my knees. I said “stop!” but he just got more violent.”

My questions are , why would you get in a shower with a man:

  1. You had uncomfortable interaction with prior?
  2. That is not your husband?
  3. That is not your boyfriend”
    It seem as though Amour decided to play a role in a rape situation so that she could get media attention.However, I agree with her that being naked in public is not an invitation for sexual violence. As a village woman, nudity is not a big deal to me. I grew up seeing naked bodies.I take off my clothes in front of my siblings. And have walked topless in our family compound, all in context. A woman in my village would never shower with a man she is not intimate with, unless she is planning to entice him.As adults  it is important that we make wise decisions to keep ourselves safe, in the same way we don’t walk in front of a moving vehicle. Amour  didn’t do that and she got raped. Ladies and gentlemen, be safe as you promote your missions in life!

Read more of Amour’s story here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3387273/Activist-27-live-blogged-RAPE-social-media-just-minutes-alleged-violent-sexual-assault-took-place-set-example-survivors-need-speak-up.html#ixzz3wsOSjYav

African-Themed Reading List: Awaken Your Imagination

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Village people work around the clock. Being idle is not part of who we are. Now that I am temporary in the diaspora I still find it difficult to relax without worrying about chores.Besides, I recalled as I embark to study overseas, my mother reminded me that “education is your farm.” Bearing that principle in mind, over the years I figured out a way to mix my reading bag. I do not want to  become the “farmer” who is burnt-out  halfway, subsequently abandons her farm all together. I frequently read academic books related to my research in religion and gender in Africa but I also read writings that are not connected to my field, and some are entirely non-academic. There are many benefits to reading: it energies me to think about different aspects of life that I would never have thought about. It calms me down, enrich my vocabulary ( I often read with a dictionary to look up unfamiliar terms), encourages me to write better, and wait for it— takes me into the world of the author.This is just the tip of the iceberg and I hope the list sails you away:))

African Centered book shelf...

  1. The Joys of Motherhood, Buchi Emecheta (Nigerian)
  2.  Because of Women, Mbella Sonne Dipoko (Cameroonian)
  3. How to Write about Africa, Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenyan)
  4. So Long a Letter, Mariama Ba (Senegalese)
  5. The Sport of the Gods,  Paul Laurence Dunbar ( African American)
  6. The Autobiography of my Mother, Jamaica  Kincaid (Antiguan)
  7. Weep Not, Child, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o ( Kenyan)
  8. The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah, Kwame Nkrumah (Ghanaian- First president of the country)
  9. King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild  (White American- journalist)
  10. Sex and the Empire that is no more, J.Lorand Matory (African American- Anthropologist)
  11. The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander ( African American)
  12. Shrines of the Slave Trade:Diola Religion and Society in Precolonial Senegambia, Robert M.Baum ( White American)
  13. Africana Womanism: Reclaiming Ourselves, Clenora Hudson-Weems ( African American – Pan-African)
  14. African Philosophy An Anthology, ( Pan-African)
  15. Dipo and the Politics of Culture in Ghana, Marijke Steegstra ( Swedish- Anthropologist)
  16. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney  (Guyanese)
  17. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley (African American)
  18.  Nervous Condition, Tsitsi Dangarembga  ( Zimbabwean)
  19. African Roots/American Cultures: Africa in the Creation of the Americas ,Sheila S.Walker ( editor,  anthology)
  20.  The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge, V.Y.Mudimbe (Congolese)
  21.  Fela: The Bitch of a life, Carlos Moore  ( Afro Cuban)
  22.  I Put a Spell on You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone ( African American/ Pan-African)
  23. Juan the Chamula , Ricardo Pozas  ( Mexican anthropologist )
  24. The Lonely African, Colin M.Turnbull ( British- American, Anthropogist)
  25. Teacher’s Dead, Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah ( Jamaican- Afro-British dub poet, writer, Rastafari.)

©Yoknyam Dabale

Coloring your blackboard: Makeup ideas to enhancing your amazing dark skin

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For some of us, makeup enhances what is already in place. I think it is important that we take care of our inner being as well as our physical appearance. Even though it is only recently that I started wearing makeup because I focused more on my intellectual gorgeousness, I find the art of body beautifying exciting.

Amongst African Americans and other diasporans I understand that dark skin women are often told to avoid  bright colors. For example, when I was an undergraduate in Texas, my mixed race Caribbean roommate would always highlight the fact that I was “charcoal” black and discouraged me from wearing bright colors. Her “warnings” did not have much of an effect on me, however, I was intrigued. After years of studying and life experiences in the diaspora, I concluded that our brothers and sisters are sick. This serves as a motivation for me to contribute in the healing process. Ladies, our dark skin is like a blackboard, it complements any color of chalk. I find inspiration from other women, and I hope these images awake your creativity.Color that board hunny!

Kenya-Moore

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Yoknyam Dabale aka professor Dabale

Tiwa-Savage

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White Power in Africa Today

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Africans often pride themselves of not having race issues like their diasporan counterparts. When people of African descent highlight the impacts of racism /white supremacy on their daily lives, many continental Africans view them as excuses.These differences are especially apparent when tragedies occur such as the recent killing of an unarmed African American boy, Michael Brown, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. On social media, many Africans are indifferent to the event because they believe, wrongly, that racism is not a problem. The belief that racism doesn’t exist or rarely happens in Africa is incorrect. Here’s why:

1.Even though African workers take  heavier work loads, white workers for Non Governmental  Organizations ( NGOs) make thousands of dollars a month, while their African counterparts barely survive on their salary.

2. In initiatives to “partner” with Africans, whites typically dictate how things must be done. Africans are constantly encouraged to abandon all things African and depend on European methods of doing things.

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3. Less-educated whites in Africa get more opportunities than highly educated Africans.

4. African made goods are  considered inferior to foreign products. For example, Dutch wax (ankara) is relatively expensive and many Nigerians would rather buy it than the Nigerian made wax that is of equal quality. In my home region, Middle-belt (aka Northeast Nigeria), when people want to insult your choice of clothing, they can say “your clothes are local.”

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6.Middle and upper class Africans are now abandoning the tradition of naming for European names. This is also becoming a growing trend amongst urbanized rural citizens. When you go to my hometown, you will find Africans with names like Celine Dion or George Bush.

7.  White beauty standards are becoming prevalent, especially amongst urban communities. Women and, less frequently, men bleach their skin to look like white people. Others are determined to marry white women or men in order to make  mixed race children. These Africans have internalized the belief that dark skin is inferior. I have frequently heard Africans insisting that “mixed race children are more beautiful.”

Bleached African Woman

Vera Sidika before and after bleaching her skin

8. Religion- Even though Christians and Muslim are often at odds with each other, they agree on one thing: the demonization of African indigenous religions. Many Africans are opposed to indigenous African spiritual systems. They consider African religions  to be pagan, superstitious beliefs. These racist ideas were imposed by Arab (Muslim) and  European (Christian) colonialism.Today, Africans are reproducing these ideas that they have internalized.

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9. White power in Africa also applies to Asians and Arabs. African governments frequently favor their non black population–Indians, Lebanese, Chinese, white Americans, etc.–more than their black citizens.These groups are given opportunities to start businesses while natives are ignored. I noticed this, for example, in Sierra Leone and Liberia where most of the businesses are owned by Lebanese. When black citizens ask for loans to start their business they are often denied, but these governments give their support and resources to anyone that has “white” skin.

What is the way forward?

1. Admit there is a problem

2. Talk about it with your children at home, school, religious  and secular spaces

3. Work towards solutions

Additional information 

1.“Wealthy Kenyans inject themselves with creams to become white”

2.”Apartheid may be dead, but racism is still with us”

3.”Practitioners of African Traditional Religion (ATR) in Ghana have expressed disappointment…”

4. Why Do Africans (People of African Descent ) Bleach Their Beautiful Dark Skin,Perm Their Natural Kinky Hair,And Have “Pointed Nose” Operations?

5.“Model Irene Major: ‘I spend thousands of pounds to lighten my skin’

Watch her interview here: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=irene+major+interview+on+skin+bleaching&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=57171112FB9831FC395057171112FB9831FC3950

6.”Lebanon FM pushes trade in Africa”

Extraordinary African American Boys Making Us Proud

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African American boys/males are often viewed through a narrow lens. In order to keep alive racist views about them, you hardly hear about their numerous contribution to the American society. This dangerous beast often rear its ugly head whenever a continental African or non indigenous black gets a little recognition. Recently Katherine Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise, a New York-based consulting firm. While offering her views on Kwasi Enin (Ghanian origin) being accepted into 8 ivy league universities.Cohen could not help but to be divisive and racist about it, she reportedly states, “Being a first-generation American from Ghana also helps him stand out…“He’s not a typical African-American kid.”

It is unfortunate that many African immigrants in the US and other people of African descent ( i.e from Jamaica, the Bahamas etc.) buy into the stereotype, they participate in spreading its venom.This poison is eating and destroying us. For example, you would often hear without any factual context from cycles of African Immigrants and Caribbean that, “African Americans (AA) are not taking advantage of the opportunities that the US offers them,” “AA do not like education,” or AA are lazy.”etc.

Below are few examples amongst many achievements and contributions of African American boys/ males. These young people are keeping the  tradition of AA ingenuity despite being in a society that does not often appreciate nor celebrate their contributions.They remind me of folks like Paul Robeson, James Baldwin, Paul Laurence Dunbar,Percy Lavon Julian and Ossie Davis.

1. Akintunde Ahmad aka Tunde accepted to top 12 universities including Ivy League

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2. James Martin -Molecular biology

  • James-Martin17 years old
  • Youngest in his graduating class
  • Graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a 3.9 GPA in Molecular biology
  • He is working towards earning a PhD in order to be a professor
  • Watch him graduate here :

3.Carson Huey-You -youngest student to attend Texas Christian University (TCU)

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4. Aylen Bledsoe – motivational speaker, president/ CEO of his IT company  worth $3.5 million

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  • Started his company at 12 years old using his home computer
  • High school student
  • Company $3.5 mullion and growing!
  • Plans to attend law school to become copyright lawyer
  • Besides being a student, he held several leadership and volunteer roles in his community: “president of the Student Council and the Parent Teacher Student Association.Served as the chief technology officer of St. Louis Volunteen, a program to promote teen volunteerism, according to Patch. He was even partly responsible for bringing vegetarian options to his former middle school’s cafeteria.”
  • He started with 2 employees and now has 150 contracted employees
  • Read more of his story here:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/jaylen-bledsoe_n_3860585.html

5. Joshua Williams – homeless through most of his college career, started  his own scholarship to help other students 

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6. Chad Thomas – offered 150 scholarship for his skill as a musician and football player 

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7. Avery Coffey applied to 5 ivy league Universities and got accepted by all of them
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Note: I dedicate this entry to parents that are doing their best to raise young African/black boys.

Ideas to help you cope with stress

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Life is stressful, how we deal with our problems make living “enjoyable.” Our environment contributes to ways in which we cope with stress. Some people in an attempt to escape their problems they seek out quick solutions that often lead to long term destructive behavior. For example, extreme anger, drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, over eating, misbehavior towards elders, waywardness, etc. Rarely do we hear stories about troubled people who gravitate towards empowering strategies in order to cope with life. As a person that has gone through series of life changing events, I am often ask, “how do you maintain your sanity?” Below are few suggestions for those of you that are going through something, may you find your balance!

  • Do not compare yourself with others
    I tell this to some of my family members that are always trying to be something that they are not. If you want to make it in life, you must avoid comparing your life with other peoples’. Be the best you!
  • Cry on your friends’ shoulders
    Loyal friends would celebrate your victories and mourn your struggles.
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  • Learn from others struggles and victories
    The gods/spirits/ universe brought us together to inspire each other.
  • Exercise
    It would relax your body and keep you fit, I have utilized jogging for many years and it works.
  • Take a nap 
    Like exercising, it would calm you down and energizes you when you are awake.
  • Praying and waiting on “God” would not change your situation.
    You must be proactive in finding solutions. I.e Set your goals and then find ways to accomplish them. There are many route to solve a problem, do not be dependent on one method just because it is popular.
  • You are not special,others are dealing with stress too!
    This is a hard one, do not be a source of stress for others just because you are unhappy. Even in pain, be compassionate towards people around you.
    For example, I know grown folks who would ignite hell fire for their parents when they are in need, ignoring the fact that they have ill health, struggling with younger siblings and grandchildren.rescue
  •  Have a sense of humor, laugh alot:)o-OLDER-AFRICAN-AMERICAN-COUPLE-facebook

 

Blacks/Africans need their indigenous Methods of Education: Islamic or Western Educational Models are not Enough

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Many Africans on the continent and in the diaspora are setting themselves aback. They believe that the only form of education that they need is Islamic or European.Anything indigenous is considered backwards and worthless. For example, in Nigeria, Christians often seek European forms of education and English is their primary language. While for Muslims, they insist that  their children must attend Qur’anic school.

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The problem with this approach is that, African children from an early age are conditioned to believe they are inferior and nothing good can come from their place of origin.These schools often rely heavily on colonial models, books that are outdated and profoundly racist. As a result many African students upon graduation they are convinced that :

  •  Africans were in the dark until Christianity and Islam brought light to the continent. African indigenous spirituality that predates both religions are satanic, pagan and simply superstitious beliefs.
  •  It is African to be violent especially towards women. I have read and debated with both African men and women who expressed such sentiments.
  •  Ethnic languages are useless. i.e I noticed for many years and it became  apparent the last time I was in my home village, Bawagarik in Northern Nigeria.Young people who spend time in the city, working or getting their “Education,” upon their arrival to the village they exhale air of arrogance that is toxic for many of us concern “uncivilized” people. When relatives speak to them in Yotti/Bali our language, they replied in Hausa or English,even though they were aware that those relatives do not speak English.
  • That Africans did not resist slavery and colonialism, because it brought civilization to them.
  •  Africans do not have the intelligence to build or invent anything.
  •  Dignified careers are “office” jobs, handy work are inferior, etc.

I am not suggesting that Western or Islamic education are bad. As a people who have for centuries interacted, exchanged ideas with foreigners ( i.e Africans were early innovators of smelting steel, c-section, agricultural  techniques etc), traded ( ink, gold, fabric ) and later were violently enslaved and colonized. It is important for us to introduce our students to Islamic and European education. As a people on the continent and in the diaspora we cannot move forward without knowing about our past. Additionally, those that  enslaved and colonized us are still benefiting from their acts of violence (i.e.FranceBritain,Belgium, U.S. etc), as a result they control majority of the world’s monetary wealth. We must learn their craft combine with our indigenous ideas to protect our lands, create a truly liberated independent African world on the continent and in the diaspora that does not depend on its “former” enslaver and colonizer for “aid” but on African intellect and innovation.

What is the way forward?

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We must reorient ourselves by learning African indigenous/village ideas and skills. Below are few ideas:

  • Doing things with our hands. We must encourage our youth to be innovative instead of teaching them to memorize exam questions and after graduation they seat at home waiting for a savior. Africa has many “graduates” looking for work instead of them creating work for themselves.555209_328890327160980_135207673195914_791181_1453615157_n© Yoknyam Dabale
  •  Group work, we need to teach our youth the value of collaborating with their peers to produce something. A community cannot survival without the participation of everybody. I.e The great wall of Zimbabwe was built by community participation.
  • Teach our youth their history at home and in school. This can happen using oral history ( great  way to keep their brains sharp ) or written history ( for those whose memory is not that great ). A people that know nothing about their past are setting themselves up for failure and elimination. Here are three examples of how we have failed our youth by not teaching them our history.Genevieve Nnaji a nigerian actress during her interview on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight in Canada, she was asked about her thoughts on Biafara since she was on the movie cast of Half of a Yellow Sun based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book.To the audience dismay Genevieve told the interviewer that she is young and does not know anything about that history, and she added that even though she is from the  Igbo “tribe” a group that was central to the conflict she was not informed about that period ( watch the interview below)

    Black british of Nigerian Igbo origin, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, was asked by Woopi Goldberg on The View ( U.S talk show) along side his cast mate Lupita Nyong’o for their roles in Steven McQueen’s movie 12 years a slave, wether they were “aware” of the breath of slavery in America, given they are not African Americans. Ejiofor staggered through the interview, highlighting that to him the storyline is a human story. One can clearly tell that he knows little about his history.
    Porsha Stewart (Williams), cast member of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) and granddaughter of Hosea Lorenzo Williams one of the well known civil rights leaders. Porsha often brags about her family name, evidently she does not  know much about slavery and what her (our) ancestors had to endured. In one  of the  RHOA episode Porsha insisted to her cast mates ( who are more knowledgable of the history ) that the underground railroad, enslaved Africans used to escape oppression was a real train. ( video clip below)

5. Rites of passage through gender based secret society. Where young people are taught about their sexuality and the importance of leadership in their community. For example Dipo in South Eastern Ghana.

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 6. Do away with colonial ideas and things. For example, the outrageous blond wigs that African lawyers in Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana wear. Stop defecating on our ancestors who fought for our freedom.

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Additional Information

Listen to Mmatshilo Motsei a renowned writer,poet, gender activist & spiritual healer on how village knowledge is important for African development. She talks about finding strength and new meaning in life from rural South African communities.

Saki Mafundikwa founder of Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts and author of African alphabets. Below he talks about little known fact that Africans had writing systems. He teaches this information to his students.

Dr. Ben (Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan) talks about how African knowledge provides foundation for what we know today as  Western Civilization

Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina encourages Africans to ” Free Our Imaginations.”  Wainaina is convinced that many Africans especially the “middle class” are limiting themselves, their children and the continent more generally because they believe that success is only possible if Africans approximate white people’s culture.

Fear of a black goddess? Woman attacks statue of African deity of the sea Iemanjá more than 20 times with sledgehammer; statue a symbol of Afro-Brazilian religion — Black Women Of Brazil

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Note from BW of Brazil: In many ways, art and statues can be very influential in the way in we see the world. Similar to film and television, such depictions can stamp indelible images and meanings into our conscious and subconscious. Such images can shape how see ourselves, understand the human experience and our own places…

via Fear of a black goddess? Woman attacks statue of African deity of the sea Iemanjá more than 20 times with sledgehammer; statue a symbol of Afro-Brazilian religion — Black Women Of Brazil