|Photo: An African child shows her |
beauty in a traditional Ghanaian outfit
Our `most cherished values` begin to end, the moment we become silent over the things that matter. –Martin Luther King Jr.
By Honourable Saka
Africa Is Unique
Africa is a continent that is very rich, not only in natural resources but also in cultural diversities. Africans are arguably the most diverse people on earth. Most people on the continent are quite diverse from country to country and from region to region. Thus, the Francophone African countries are slightly unique when compared with the Commonwealth African countries. More than 3,000 unique ethnic groups are recognized in Africa. African traditions, customs, languages, and culture are unique and also vary from country to country.
In spite of the diversities, the ultimate African identity as portrayed by the colour of their skin is what makes Africans all over the world, one one people, with a common destiny.
In the light of this, Peter Tosh, an African reggae legend from Jamaica, said this to Africans all over the world:
“…Don't care where you come from; as long as you're black, you're an African. It doesn’t matter whether you were born in Cuba, Portland, France, Brooklyn, Brixton, Canada, Germany, Russia; you’ve got the identity of an African. Don’t mind your nationality. Never mind your religious denomination because it is only a tool for segregation. Whether you’re a Methodist, a Catholic, a Muslim; whether you go to the Church of God or whatever your religion; there is no rejection. Even if your complexion is high or low, you’re still an African. Be proud of your African identity...”
By this, one can clearly understand that the African identity goes far beyond mere nationalities, place of birth and religious denominations. As far as the African identity is concerned, there cannot be and should never be expressions like: African-American, British-African, Afro-Latino, Franco Africana, etc. The African is and will always be an African regardless of where he/she was born.
Culture can be defined as the way of life of a people in a given society. It is characterized by beliefs, traditions, customs, religions and others. A people’s culture can be seen in the food they eat, the kind of clothes they wear, their music, dance, values (what is acceptable to them as a people) and to some extent, their perception of life.
Like other cultures, the modern African culture places emphasis on personal appearance. Beads, jewellery and other similar items, remained an important personal accessory in the life of the African woman. Many pieces of such jewellery are made of cowry shells, wood and similar materials. African cultures are diverse and varied; not static, and like most of the world have been impacted upon by external forces.
During the post-colonial era, African women and African fashion played an important role in showcasing
Africa’s beauty in what was then referred to as “The pride of the African woman”. As the African fashion
gained momentum, African women demonstrated the pride of their beauty, by dressing with dignity and
making sure that all sensitive parts of their bodies were adequately covered. Practices such as indecent
exposure; exposed cleavage, naked tummy, the exposure of all other sensitive body parts were completely unacceptable to the African woman who placed her dignity far above anything else. As a result African
women were highly respected by society because dignity and respect were very essential requirements for
them to find a responsible man for marriage.
|Many African girls are influenced |
by powerful musicians like Beyonce
However, the advent of western civilization: hip-hop music, R&B, and indecent dressing portrayed by fashion, has recently cast a dark shadow over the pride of the African beauty. African women of today, both young and old can shamelessly walk the streets virtually naked in the name of fashion. Some even go to church improperly attired: luscious boobs exposed, transparent dresses, mini skirts and all manner of extreme body exposure that only seek to harass their male counterparts.
They watch movies where such lifestyles are considered to be “hot” and “sexy”. Therefore the African woman thinks that it is alright to expose her precious assets for the world to behold even if it means risking her dignity. Little or no attention whatsoever is paid to human conscience. After all, being “sexy” is all that matters.
The Cost of Africa's Inferiority Complex
According to one estimate, African girls of today spend more money on fashion than what they spend on books and food combined. From pedicure to manicure, skin bleaching cosmetics, hair relaxers, wigs, weaves, eyelashes, nails, among others. Many women in the universities even go to the extreme: they blow part of their school fees on items that will make them look sexy.
Take Nigeria for example, it is estimated that Nigeria has a population of about 155million with about 56% between the ages of 16-54 years old. Out of these age group women are more than 40million. The details are as follows:
Male = 44,296,228 Female = 42,534,542
Source: CIA’s World Fact Book.
Therefore with over 40 million women in Nigeria, if each one of them spends at least $1 a week on any of the above items, how much will that be? At least that is $40million dollars per week; making it about $150/month. Mind you this figure just applies to Nigeria only. What about the women across all the 54 African countries combined?
Every day, Korean and Brazilian families thank black women for giving their countries $16.4 million dollars each. The low self-esteem of African women is making them very rich and they’re happy about that.
Throughout Africa, women spend billions of dollars every week, to import Brazilian hair, Peruvian hair, Korean hair, Asian hair, European wigs, weaves, eyelashes, artificial nails and many other stuff, all because the African woman does not appreciate her God-given natural beauty anymore. She bleaches her skin and spends so much on her hair because she wants to look Asian, a European or American. She believes that is sexy! The result: cancer and other numerous untold consequenes. This is so because the African woman has been brainwashed to look down upon her identity and to boycott her natural beauty for someone else’s. Our women have disposed their natural beauty and are rather paying so much for Asian and Western fashion. In fact, it costs African women hundreds of billions of dollars every year to keep their artificial make ups, their artificial hairs, the nails, and all the fashion they have blindly copied from other societies at the expense of their God-given beauty.
At the same time, the African fashion has been thrown to the dogs. Africa therefore spends all these money to create jobs for Asia, Europe and the Americas, whilst unemployment and poverty is becoming the destiny of the African people. Most African relationships are unstable because African women of today would demand all that their partners may not be able to afford. Africa needs mental revolution.
Bob Marley warned Africans to emancipate themselves from mental slavery, yet Africans wouldn’t listen.
If African women are throwing their pride, natural beauty and their culture to the dogs, whom do we expect, to cherish and to promote the natural beauty of the African woman?
What About The Young Men?
The problem of indecent exposure, is not only limited to the ladies. A very common practice with boys of today is 'Pant sagging'. It first became known in Ghanaian parlance, as “Otto Pfister”.
'Otto Pfister' is a kind of dressing in which the youth, especially boys, deliberately pull their trousers/shorts down below the waistline to the extent of almost dropping off and exposing part of their buttocks or their boxer shorts.
In West Africa, “Otto Pfister” became popular in 1991 after the Black Starlets, Ghana’s Under-17 soccer team, won that year’s trophy in Italy. The then German Coach, Otto Pfister, who led the team to success, was fond of dressing that way.
It is believed that “pant sagging” actually originated from prisons in , as a way to display homosexuality. Therefore the male inmates had little or no difficulty in identifying the homosexuals in their midst ‘if the need be’.
The practice is very common with hip-hop artistes on stage performance as well. Africa’s young men of today have allowed their minds to be poisoned by hip-hop stars and gangster movies. This is a dangerous development.
The Role of The Entertainment Industry
Western style music such as R&B, Rap, Hip Hop, and others are gradually having negative influence on African youth. Of course the music and the movie industries have offered opportunities to many Africans. It has created jobs for many and in some cases projected African countries on the positive spotlights. South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, the Congo are a few examples.
However, the danger is that most of the artistes involved are blindly promoting the indecent lifestyle in a manner that sharply contradicts the African norms and values. The entertainment industry in Africa therefore has a huge responsibility to promote African values, especially the dress code which showcases the pride of the African beauty. The movie and the music industry must join forces together to fight the moral decadence in the youth of today. For instance, fighting corruption cannot be a mere political exercise. The movie industry could showcase scenarios in movies where a few responsible politicians are able to stand firm and resist acts of corruption and demonstrate their obedience to the law as well as promoting acts of patriotism.
There is no doubt that many public officials are corrupt in Africa. However, there are also many others who have been able to stand up for what is right and resisted all forms of corruption. The music industry should also check and ensure that their video clips are not dominated by acts of violence and unnecessary sexual scenes. Such platforms should rather serve as opportunity for the artistes to promote African values. We cannot allow the scenes on our screens to be dominated by acts of violence, corruption and unnecessary indecent exposure. Something seriously needs to be done about this before African beauty disappears from the system in the near future.
Appeal To The Youth
Dear sisters and women of Africa. Most of you have collectively already spent so much trillions of dollars to keep the business environment in Asia, Europe and Latin America alive. At the same time, the African industries that produce the fashion that suits our culture are gradually collapsing. I believe such money could do a good job here in Africa and create job opportunities if only you could cherish your African beauty and patronize African fashion. Your African beauty, if well nurtured could attract women from all other backgrounds to celebrate you and make you proud someday.
Martin Luther: Black is beautiful
Martin Luther King Jr. one of the most respected personalities in history has demonstrated
the pride of black beauty by calling on Africans around the world to cherish their identity.
Therefore the "Black is beautiful" cultural movement aimed to dispel the notion that black people's natural features such as skin colour, facial features and hair are inherently ugly. The movement is responsible for the popularity of the “Afro” hair style. It gave a generation of Africans born in America, the courage to feel good about who they are and how they look.
|African lady with a natural Afro hair|
You only need a change of mind-set and the world will celebrate your beauty and accord you the pride that is rightfully yours. Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily. You are unique and your natural beauty is beyond what you can imagine. Never allow a few musicians elsewhere to brainwash you.
For all you know, they probably have no idea what it means to be an African.
Finally, to the guys I say be disciplined. Show some dignity for African values in your dressing. Let us cherish our values because that is the only pride we have as a people.
Long live Africa,
Long live the African diaspora.
About Honourable SAKA
The author is a regular writer and a political analyst on African affairs, and a well-known social commentator in Africa. He is the editor of “The Doctor’s Report”, your most reliable source of critical analysis on African affairs. He is a strong Pan-Africanist, a youth activist and the founder of the “Leaders of Tomorrow”, a transformational and inspirational group of possible future leaders. Please visit his blog at:www.honourablesaka.blogspot.co.uk and reach him by Email at:firstname.lastname@example.org