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LIFESTYLE

African Dance STyles

The Evolution of African Dance Styles Since time immemorial, Africans have used various dance styles to express emotions, ritual rites, communication, entertainment, and freedom. In 1500, dance styles were unique to every tribe and connoted deep spirituality. Many African tribes had a dance teacher to pass the traditional dance style to younger generations. It was the dance teacher’s duty to ensure that every group in the community knew their movements naturally. Due to the meanings and expressions behind the styles, it was inherent that no step was missed. A little insight into the dance style of the Ijaw people of Nigeria, West Africa. They had both dry land and wet swampy lands which affected their dance styles. The farmers on the dry savanna placed their feet firmly on the grounds, following their dance leader in a circular motion, swaying their bodies steadily in rhythm. In the mangrove swamps were fishermen whose dance style is called ‘waist dance’. When they danced, their backs leaned forward from their hips, their torsos positioned like they had a dog’s posture except they were not kneeling. They moved lightly, moving their body weight from foot to foot in rhythm to songs they sang as they fish by the swamps.  It is impossible to talk about African dance without mentioning drums. It was very essential for dance because of its rhythm and tune to emotions and spirituality. Drums were known as the tribe’s heartbeat. Drums had the power of staging the mood and connecting positive energies and uniting the people. Another essential accessory for dance was clapping hands and stomping feet in collective rhythm to the drum, singing, and body movements while dancing. With time, dance got complicated as it widely developed. Many dances had what we called isolated and polycentric movements. With this style, each body part moved differently from the other. Bear in mind that these times, Africans were being sold into slavery to Europeans, Caribbean's, and South and North Americans. The slave masters gave them the freedom to practice their traditions which included dance. It was with these dance styles Africans had a passage to be free in their minds. Yet, in North America, slaves were subjected to harsh laws that prohibited them from dancing but Africans devised ways to continue dancing despite the conditions. Due to the dispersion and separation of ethnic groups and tribes, dance styles began to merge and evolve into a broad new African dance style. The Caribbean island was a major influence on this evolution. Inspirations also came from Spain, France, Dutch, and Britain. The African dances we know today were all rooted in the 1500 dance styles. The lasting African dance styles are; Agahu, Agbekor, Adamu, Yankadi, Munchongoyo, Kpanlogo, and Mohobelo.  Even in new lands, these dance styles stayed with Africans and are now popular dance styles in modern-day such as; tap Dancing, Twist, Charleston, Jazz dance, lindy hop, twerking, hip hop, zouk, Capoeira, the jitterbug, etc.

02 May 2021
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LIFESTYLE

West African Super Foods To Include In Your Diet

Superfoods are those foods that confer awesome health benefits to an individual. An average African knows these foods but not all know their health benefits. Baobab fruit is the oldest superfood in Africa. Teff are grains grown mostly in Ethiopia and Eritrea and they are high in vitamin C. Ginger juice is strong and is often mixed into cocktails. They are also used for public and social occasions in Senegal. Tamarind, Fonio, Pumpkin leaves are rich in Electrolytes, amino acids, and potassium respectively. Some other superfoods include Moringa, Kenkiliba, and Hibiscus plant.Superfoods are those foods that confer awesome health benefits to an individual. An average African knows these foods but not everyone knows their health benefits. There are so many positive benefits of these foods.  BOABAB FRUIT One of Africa’s oldest superfoods known to provide nutrients to humans and many other life forms is the Baobab fruit from the ancient Baobab tree. The seeds are soaked because they are always dry, they are very delicious and have a sherbert taste. The leaves are sold in various markets in West Africa. The fruit is very high in antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, and iron. TEFF Next, we have Teff, a grain that is mostly grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea. This grain houses a serious nutritional punch and it is the leading grain when it comes to nutritional values. 123mg of calcium can be gotten from a full cup of cooked Teff. It also has a very high concentration of protein, iron, and vitamin C. GINGER JUICE Ginger juice is strong and has a very pleasant sharp taste. Ginger drink for over a hundred years has been used as a digestive and circulatory system tonic. The ginger juice/drink is an awesome stomach settler and is sometimes mixed into cocktails. Senegal and some other Muslim west African countries find this drink super healthy for public and social occasions. THE TAMARIND The Tamarind is also an amazing kind of West African superfood that is served as a juice and has a scintillating sweet-and-soar flavor. This one is rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. This juice helps in relaxing and balancing the electrolytes when one is experiencing dehydration. FONIO Fonio is another West African grain that is closely related to millet and is high in amino acids. It is always used to make stews, salads, and porridge PUMPKIN LEAVES Commonly known in Nigeria as Ugwu is the Pumpkin leaves that are eaten all over the continent of Africa, they can be eaten fresh or dried too. They contain a very large amount of Vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, and some of the B-vitamins. THE HIBISCUS FLOWER The Hibiscus flower is popular and known in North Africa, particularly Egypt and Sudan. The dried leaf of the hibiscus, when soaked in hot water produces a dark red tea that is called karkadeh in Arabic and Zobo in Nigeria. In Egypt and Sudan, the red hibiscus tea is served in celebrations like weddings. The Hibiscus tea is highly rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants minerals. THE KENKILIBA SHRUB West African Muslims break their fast with bread and the sweet and milky kenkiliba tea. The leaves from the kenkiliba shrub are native to the Sahel that serves as a digestive detoxifier, it is very common in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, and Mali. THE MORINGA PLANT No part of the Moringa plant is a waste because the bark, pods, leaves, nuts, seeds, tubers, roots, and flowers are edible. The leaves can be used fresh or dried and they can also be grounded into powder, they are very high in Vitamin C and A, iron, calcium. It is so amazing to know that the moringa contains 25 times the iron of spinach, 4 times the calcium of milk, twice the protein of yogurt, seven times the Vitamin C of oranges.

16 Jul 2021
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LIFESTYLE

AFRICAN LANGUAGES THAT ARE ALMOST EXTINCT

We hear about endangered species every day, but we don't hear about endangered languages every day. A language that is at risk of going extinct is called an endangered language. According to UNESCO, not every language is at the same level of endangerment. A language can be vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, or severely endangered. There are over 200 African languages that are on the verge of extinction. A few languages are already extinct in Africa. Examples are the Kpati language in Nigeria. The preservation of African languages has become important as it is part of our unique identity.What if tomorrow, there’s no one left on earth that speaks Yoruba? We would say the language is extinct. We know about endangered species because every day we hear about animals that will soon go extinct as a result of climate change and human activity. What we don’t hear about every day is endangered languages.  The topic of endangered languages is always met with a look of amusement initially and then a sober look as the reality of the possibility dawns on the hearers. However, this subject is a matter of concern as it is already happening to some African languages. A language that is at risk of going extinct is called an endangered language. According to UNESCO, not every language is at the same level of endangerment. Some are just vulnerable, which means there's a possibility they may become endangered. Some languages are endangered. That means it is sure that they will go extinct if nothing is done. Beyond this stage, a language can become critically or severely endangered. Africa is home to over 3315 tribes and ethnic groups, each having their languages that form their unique identity. A few languages are already extinct in Africa. Examples are the Kpati language in Nigeria, the Kore language in Kenya, and the Weyto Language in Ethiopia. There are over 200 African languages that are on the verge of extinction. Examples are the Soo language in Uganda, The Akie language in Tanzania, and the Defaka language in Nigeria. UNESCO stated that the Igbo language may be extinct by 2050. The preservation of African languages has become important as it is part of our unique identity. Our cultural diversity according to UNESCO, widens the options open to everyone and is one of the roots of the development. We must not struggle to be the same. We should rather endeavor to live in unity despite our cultural differences. As we embrace English, French, and Spanish, we should also teach them our words, our expressions, and our culture as free men and women under God. We have to pass on to the generations after us the colorful heritage our ancestors left behind beginning from our languages. What do you think can be done to preserve African languages?  

15 Jul 2021
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LIFESTYLE

HEALTH BENEFITS OF ZOBO DRINK

Zobo drink is made from Zobo leaves (aka sorrel leaves) and is a popular beverage consumed in Africa, Europe, Asia, and America. It’s made with zobo leaves, flavor, cloves, and ginger, and sometimes flavored with pineapple, cucumber, or orange juice. Zobo is rich in vitamin C, Calcium, Iron and Phosphorus, and can be used as an anti-bacterial agent. It helps relieve menstrual cramps when brewed as a tea. Pharmaceutical researchers have discovered that zobo is effective in managing high blood pressure. Flavonoids found in zobo have antioxidant properties that protect the body from diseases. Zobo contains Vitamin A which boosts healthy vision. The Zobo drink is a popular beverage drink made from dried Zobo leaves. It is consumed in different parts of the world ranging from Africa to Europe, Asia, and America. Zobo leaves are also known as sorrel leaves and the drink is also known as Sorrel drink in the Caribbean and hibiscus tea by others. The traditional Nigerian zobo is made with basically four ingredients- the zobo leaves, flavor, cloves, and ginger. Health enthusiasts prefer to replace the artificial flavorings with pineapple juice, juiced cucumber, or orange juice. The drink is a perfect drink for family gatherings, office spaces as well as to ward of thirst on a sunny day. Are there any health benefits of the zobo drink? Emphatically Yes! So here are some benefits of taking a zobo drink. 1. ZOBO DRINK IS RICH IN VITAMIN C AND OTHER VITAMINS Are you looking for a rich source of vitamins on a budget? Your sure bet is a glass of zobo. Zobo drink is packed with Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Carotene, etc. It has more vitamin C than an orange or a mango! This property of the zobo drink also makes it effective as an anti-inflammatory or anti-bacterial agent 2. ZOBO DRINK MAY RELIEVE MENSTRUAL PAIN Zobo drink is effective in reducing menstrual cramps. For menstrual cramps, it is best to brew it as tea and drink without any sugar additives. 3. ZOBO DRINK MAY MANAGE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE The journal of advanced pharmaceutical technology & research has found that consuming zobo drink may lower the blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. 4. ZOBO DRINK PROTECTS YOUR BODY FROM DISEASE You may ask how it does this. Zobo contains flavonoids that have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect your body from disease because they neutralize free radicals present in the body tissues and cells. 5. ZOBO IS GOOD FOR YOUR EYES Zobo contains a lot of vitamin A which helps to prevent eye defects like night blindness and also boosts clear and healthy vision. It also boosts appetite and helps resolve certain eating disorders. Of course, it’s important to do everything in moderation, so do endeavor not to take too much of it. The zobo drink is definitely a healthy addition to your diet.  

15 Jul 2021
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LIFESTYLE

Nigeria’s Twins City

The birth of twins is not a very common occurrence in the world today and this is based on statistics. Whenever there is a twin birth, it is pretty much considered a miracle. The Igbo Ora town in Oyo state, Nigeria is known as the ''Twin capital of the world''. The high rate of twin birth in this part of the world is associated with the production of estrogen gotten from a particular kind of yam only grown in coastal regions in Nigeria. The first edition of the twin's festival had over 2000 sets of twins and was held on Saturday 13th October 2013.How would you feel if you go to a particular settlement and everyone is looking like a pair of two (everyone looks-a-like in twos)? What will your reaction be like when you visit another place and everyone looks like themselves, what would it be for you? Will it be weird or amazing? There are so many amazing things about the country Nigeria that people tend to ignore in conversations that talk about amazing facts. One of the so many amazing things about the country Nigeria is that they house the town that women bear twins. Yeah, one will be wondering how that is even possible but the Igbo Ora town in Oyo state, Nigeria is a true definition of make-believe. The birth of twins is not a very common occurrence in the world today and this is based on statistics, and whenever there is a twin birth, it is pretty much considered a miracle. The Igbo Ora town is known as the ‘’The Twin capital of the world’’ because of its very high rate of twins and because more twins are born in the town than anywhere else in the world. It is so fascinating to know that the African continent has a town that has more twin birth than any other part of the world The high rate of twin birth in Igbo Ora town has been associated with the eating of a particular kind of Nigerian food called YAM. And according to research, this Nigerian Yam produces estrogen that causes multiple births and this Nigerian Yam is grown in coastal regions of the rain forests and also the southern savanna habitats. And according to the people of the Igbo Ora town, the yam is used to make Amala and it is eaten with IIasa (a vegetable soup made from dried okra leaves that are shredded) and this meal is believed to contain a kind of ingredient that helps boost the production of eggs in a woman’s ovaries that quickens the conception of twins and triplets. One very awesome thing is that over 2000 sets of twins gathered at the very first edition of the Twin Festival that was organized by the Oyo state government of Nigeria and was held on Saturday 13th October 2013. Who would not want to celebrate a town that more than half of her population are twins? It is also amazing to note that the event was attended by not only twins but by dignitaries like government officials, religious leaders, traditional rulers, tourists from within and outside the country. Now imagine a twin’s parade, how lovely that will be. It is interesting right??!!

16 Jun 2021
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LIFESTYLE

What is in an African Name?

We use names to distinguish one from another. So, when persons in one location bear the same name, adjectives are used to distinguish them. In Africa, names are woven around family history, endurance, and divine revelation. E.g., Tutu of Asante was named after the deity Otutu and his name signifies the struggles endured by his parents. In Igbo, Chisom means “God walks with me”, while Tiaraoluwa means “Lord’s wonder” in Yoruba. Among Hausas, children born on Sundays and Thursdays are called Danladi and Danlami respectively, while children born after twins are called Gambo and in Ghana, Bobo means born on Tuesday.  As we all know, names are what we use to identify one another; to distinguish ourselves from others. If you have ever come across two persons in a given area that bear the same name, you may have noticed that in addition to their given names something more was added to tell one from the other; this is where adjectives come in, making it possible for you to hear someone being called "dark Ekpeanwan” and another “fair Ekpeanwan”. In Africa, names are usually woven around tales of family and tribal history, drama, politics, hardships, endurance, and sometimes divine revelation. For example, in the ancient Asante Empire, the first king Osei Tutu was named after the Asante deity Otutu; the god that blessed his parents with him as a son after they had experienced years of infertility. His name embodied not just the name of the deity but also the struggles and ridicule his parents must have endured before he was born. Today, some African families give their children European (English, French, Portuguese, etcetera) names, a practice that became rampant following the colonization of most African countries, which today have made those European languages their official languages. Sometimes, parents give their children these names because they believe such names can help the bearer get farther in life. In other cases, they do so because “it is what people do nowadays” Although most children in present times are given European names, parents usually have the presence of mind to also give their children tribal names because they know that such names have great meanings which could and do alter the destiny of the child. For instance, where, in Nigeria, a woman had been unable to conceive for a long time and doctors had repeatedly told her that she was infertile, then out of the blue, with no help from the doctors she conceives and gives birth; this is regarded as a miracle by her and all who hear her story. It doesn’t matter what the doctor says to explain this happenstance; God is believed to have a hand in her conception and birth. So, at the naming ceremony, if the woman is Igbo, she could give the child any of the following names: Ogechukwu – meaning God’s time, Nkechinyere – meaning God’s gift, Ifechimere – meaning God’s works are endless, Chisom – meaning God walks with me, Kaitochukwu – meaning let’s praise God. The list is endless If the woman is from the Yoruba tribe, she could name the child: Ireoluwa meaning goodness of God, Tiaraoluwa – meaning Lord’s wonder, Ayomide or Ayotunde – meaning Joy has returned, Diekololaoluwa – meaning God’s blessing isn’t small, and so on. In South Africa, such a child may be named Jabulani which is Zulu for “rejoice” or Lindiwe meaning “waited for” This is the way with most African societies, there is history in a name. An African name is a kind of oral tradition it tells the family’s and the child’s history In Ghana, children are sometimes named for the day of the week on which they were born; for example, a boy born on a Monday may be called Kojo or Adjo; the name Abeiku means “a child born on a Wednesday”; a child born on a Friday may be called Afi, and when Ghanaians come across a man named Bobo, they can boldly conclude that he was born on a Tuesday. Now, Africans who speak the Hausa language are found in a considerable number of countries in West Africa, including the Republic of the Niger, Cameroon, Benin Republic, and Chad; but they are predominantly found in Nigeria. Not unlike Ghanaians, speakers of the Hausa language have names that quickly indicate to other members of the tribe the day on which a child was born. So, a child born to a member of the Hausa tribe on a Sunday could be named Danladi; a child born on a Thursday may be named Danlami, the name Danjuma represents “a child born on a Friday", while a child that comes after a set of twins may be named Gambo, which means “child born after twins”. Zimbabweans believe that a name not only tells the history of the person but also reflects the hopes and aspirations parents may have for the child. This is the African way, this is what is in an African name

08 Jun 2021
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LIFESTYLE

The African Country Where Brides Wear Black

What if we told you of a place where brides wear black!! In Mauritania, the white wedding gown fever introduced by Queen Victoria and her bridesmaids in 1840 failed to influence their tradition that requires brides to wear black and grooms to wear white. The bride’s family begins sewing her wedding gown (lakhel) immediately after she is born. Wedding arrangements are made by the bride’s family but how expensive the occasion will be is determined by the groom’s wealth. Marriage is a really important part of the African lifestyle and its beginning is usually celebrated with lots of pomp and fanfare. Marriage is such an important aspect of the African lifestyle, and most if not every African has seen, heard, participated, or simply attended a wedding. White apparel has come to be accepted as the norm for brides on these occasions, but what if we told you of a place where brides wear black!! Now, every single country and ethnic group in Africa has the customs, traditions, and popular practices that regulate the conduct of wedding ceremonies; what to wear, what to serve to guests, where to have the ceremony, the rites that lead up to the ceremony, etc. Among the popular modern practices is the wearing of an elaborate white gown by the bride. In addition to being seen as a mark of purity, the white gown makes the bride the center of attention and easily distinguishable from the guests, family, and well-wishers. Though the white wedding gown is a Western trend made popular by Queen Victoria of England in 1840 when both she and her bridesmaids wore white, it has been adopted as part of the wedding culture in most African countries. However, not every country caught the white wedding gown fever. In fact, not only did one country in particular not catch this fever, its customary wedding practices relating to what the bride wears do not call for vibrant colors at all, instead, black rules the day. Black dress, black veil, black body art on the bride’s hands and feet. But that’s not all; while the bride rules the day in black, the groom rules the day in white. Exceptional. The country in which this unique wedding custom is practiced is none other than the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. This Mauritanian wedding custom is believed to have been passed down for generations from the Berbers of Arab and North African descent who migrated to the area centuries ago and introduced the religion of Islam to the area and its people. Marriages in Mauritania are usually arranged by the families of a man and woman of the same tribe. This is because society is divided along lines of ethnicity, religion, and class. Therefore, marriages are made between men and women who belong to the same ethnic group, religious order, and position in society. These marriage arrangements usually take place when the couple is still very young. Interestingly, the woman's gown is not purchased or made after the marriage arrangements have been made or when the time for the wedding is near; rather, her family begins sewing her wedding gown immediately after she is born; the traditional name of the wedding gown is lakhel. Mauritanians believe that the black gown compliments the white teeth and fair complexion of their women. The wedding gown is not the only thing that the woman’s family begins to prepare long before she has a suitor. The family also prepares the woman, fattening her to make her attractive to prospective suitors. This process of force-feeding young girls to enhance their stature in the community and increase their chances of acquiring for themselves the eligible men of the community is called “Leblouh” and has its origins in the beliefs of the early settlers (Berbers) in the area. These early settlers believed that men with plump wives were wealthy and of higher social standing than others. A large wife was the mark of a man’s ability to provide for his family in the desert area. The wedding arrangements are usually made by the bride’s family, and the wedding takes place in the place selected by the bride’s family, usually their family home. The bride is expected to wear a black veil from the beginning of the ceremony to its end, only the groom is permitted to see her. The extravagance of the wedding is determined by the wealth of the groom. The wealthier he is, the more animals are expected to be slaughtered for the ceremony. As unique as Mauritania’s wedding customs are, it retains one common characteristic with marriages in Africa; it is a collective affair, involving close and extended family members who usually travel long distances to attend the ceremony and share in the happiness of the couple and their parents.

04 Jun 2021
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LIFESTYLE

Tribes with The Most Interesting Marriage Customs In Africa

Discover tribes with the most interesting marriage customs in Africa. The FraFra tribe of Ghana and the Himba tribe kidnaps their bride. The Bembe tribe sends their bride to counseling called Bana Chimbusa. 40 cows are expected to be paid by the groom before he marries the bride in the Neur tribe and the marriage is sealed when the bride gives birth to three children but the Wodaabe tribe arranges marriages for their children while they are infants. Zulu tribesmen pay the normal bride price but the bride reciprocates with groceries for the groom’s family.When visiting the African continent, there are so many things you need to understand and know, and the marriage customs of different tribes in Africa are one of the things you need to know. Marriage customs of a people are one of the big things that make people so unique, and Africa is no exception. Marriage customs in Africa differ from tribe to tribe and the beauty in that is a must-talk-about.   Discover tribes with the most interesting marriage customs in Africa as you go through this article   Kidnap the Bride: As the name implies, the bride has to be kidnapped before any marriage process will continue. This type of marriage custom is peculiar to the FraFra tribe of Ghana. In this tribe, the bride-to-be is first kidnapped and taken hostage by the groom and his family and the bride-to-be is kept in the groom’s house and guarded heavily avoiding escape. After that is done, the groom’s family visits the bride’s family with kola nuts, guinea fowls, and tobacco, to only let the family of the bride know the whereabouts of their child, and if the bride’s family accepts this proposal, a dowry that consists of 4 cows, several guinea fowls, money and kola nuts. It is never a problem if the groom’s family is not able to pay for the items for the dowry, the bride still goes with them but the bride’s family would wait for a girl to be born from the union and then collect her as the dowry. Interesting right? Another marriage kidnapping tribe is the Himba people, but this is a little different from the FraFra tribe of Ghana. Here the bride is been kidnapped and given new clothes to wear, these clothes have already been treated and adorned with expensive jewelry. A leather headdress called ‘’Okori’’ will be given to the bride by her mother. On the wedding morning, the bride’s father slaughters a goat and shares it among the village folks. Among the Zambians is a tribe called the Bembe people and the marriage custom of the Bembe is way different from the customs of every other tribe in Africa. The Bembe tribe sends the bride to secret counseling called the Bana Chimbusa, this is followed by a process where the bride’s family sends different delicacies to the groom’s family, mind you, this is done as a sign to let the groom and his family know the kind of food the groom will be eating when he gets married to their daughter. Before a man marries a woman in the Neur tribe, he is asked to pay about 40 cows for his bride and after the price is paid, even when the price is paid it doesn’t mean the marriage proceedings are not complete. The marriage proceedings will only be complete when the woman can deliver at least two children. The Neur tribe believes so much in continuity and kinship and until the third child is born, the marriage is not officially sealed. If in any case, the bride produces just one child after a given time frame, the groom is allowed to go for a divorce and if that happens, the bride’s family is expected to return the cattle. While children find love for themselves and go into marriage with whom they love, the Wodaabe tribe of Niger arranges marriages for their children as at when they are still infants. And when they are grown enough for the proper marriage, the groom’s family pays up the bride price and after that, the bride goes to live with the groom and when the bride gets pregnant, she goes back to her parents and stays there for four years before returning to her husband. There are different tribes with different customs in marriage, one peculiar custom is from the Zulu tribe. The Zulu tribe says that the groom has to pay the bride price and then give gifts to the bride’s family. And then, the bride will reciprocate by buying stuff (groceries) for the groom’s family.

11 May 2021