Masks are a well known feature of African culture. They’re used in many circumstances and in psychological terms represent the persona of the wearer. As such they’re a language on their own, communicating to the viewer what is being said.
In Uganda a young man, called Bright Niwagaba, explained the meanings behind some of the masks he was selling. He said they were made and worn by Pygmies, Africa’s forest dwelling hunter-gatherers, and represent everyday political and social events as well conquest and subjugation by other tribes.
Here are some of his stories.
Continue reading Behind the masks
Most conscientious travellers have asked themselves at one time or another what is the etiquette around taking photos of locals in the places they visit. I’ve always gone by the rule of ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’
Continue reading Photographing locals
Author’s note: This is written with the view that we make more progress by emphasizing our similarities than we do by highlighting our differences.
I came across this image taken from an ancient vase. It depicts Theseus slaying the Minotaur, a creature that inhabited a labyrinth beneath the palace of Knossos on Crete. According to this myth of Ancient Greece, the Minotaur was the progeny of a beautiful snow-white bull and the Queen whose husband, King Minos, spurred by his own avarice, had kept the bull he pledged to kill when he ascended the throne.*
Continue reading Theseus and the Leopard Cloak
Runner-up in the 2009 Bradt Travel Writing Competition.
Anonymous arms handled large woven bags over the heads of the throng – an elevated baggage carousel. The crowd surged as we stepped off the ferry. “Bananas, bananas,” one vendor shouted as he thrust a bunch of squat, green fruit into our faces.
Continue reading Backtracking Africa
Yes. You guessed it. There has been a surge of newborn baby name registrations in Africa beginning with B and O. Barack and Obama are the flavour of the month right now.
There is something endearing, something that makes one smile, about this. As a highly qualified psychologist told me recently, Africans tend to be more emotionally literate than Westerners. What better way to display all your hopes for the future than to name your child after someone who stands for Change.
I find it gratifying.
News of Obama’s win in the U.S. has buoyed many in Africa. Africans are proud that one of their own occupies the most powerful seat in the world.
Apart from the hype and glory I think there will be a subtle advantage for Africa as this man of Kenyan blood serves in office. Undoubtedly, there are many who think that as a “homeboy” he will not forget the people back home, that Western largesse will continue to pour, sometimes quite undeservedly, into Africa. However, with the world in recession, the U.S. in a diabolical financial fix, I suspect that charity will start at home with Obama and that he will, ever so gently, tell Africans that they need to get up and do it for themselves. Hearing it from one of our own will, hopefully, have a much greater effect than hearing it from the big-stick ex- colonials. And, one expects, he won’t fall into the trap of vanity that has fed this longwinded donor culture. “What do you mean you can’t. Yes, we can. You won’t appeal to my sense of patrimony because I’m one of you, brother.”
This is a great day for Africa.
Continue reading Homebuoy wins White House