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Blog Post 6

     After watching Classic Man throughout this semester, I have picked up on many key parts of the video that have led me to learn new things about the continent of Africa.  I have learned about Dandies and how their fashion came about.  I have done research on the head wear and hairstyles that have risen around the continent.  I have even learned about the education system in Nigeria and how it was initially directed towards the Western world.  With all of this knowledge about the continent, I believe that the best way to wrap things up for this semester is to talk about the phrase that was written on the chalk board in the music video Classic Man.  Those influential words were none other than “pressure is privilege.

     When I first saw this phrase, I confused me because I didn’t know how pressure could be turned into privilege.  Then I decided to think deeper about this phrase and see what I could pull out of it.  After spending some time thinking about this phrase, I took viewed it as how stress can turn into a diamond.  In other words, dealing with pressure means that there are high expectations for oneself. The continent of Africa has been dealing with pressure for more than a century.  This goes to show that there is a very high expectation for Africa both for its people and its land.

As we all already know, Africa is home to very diverse people with many different backgrounds, but one thing most Africans have in common is the value of their land.  For instance, Namibia has iron ore, gold, chromite, bauxite, and limestone (Minerals in ‘German’ West Africa, 1917).  These minerals are worth a lot and if the Namibians were able to control their minerals before the Germans colonized the land, their economy would be booming.  The same goes for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their tantalum.  This mineral is used in all cell phones across the world!  Once again, if the DRC had control of the tantalum industry, their economy would also be booming. 

It is really unfortunate how European nations came together to exploit the lands of Africa.  I believe the idea of the colonizing Africa had only one main purpose, to make more money.  To control the land that has those minerals would cost a lot less than having to buy from the people who would live there.  Along with the racist propaganda and people believing that it was the white man’s burden to civilize all other races it lead to the demise of a great continent.  Africa is just now getting back on its feet and it will take a long time to recover from what Europe has done to them historically.  But I believe that this pressure that the continent of Africa faces will lead to them becoming a booming continent again in the future.

References:

“MINERALS IN ‘GERMAN’ WEST AFRICA.” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol. 65, no. 3385, 1917, pp. 768–768. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41347469.

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Blog Post 5

One of the many things I find interesting about Jidenna in general is his success in America and the American music industry.  Considering the fact that Jidenna was born in Wisconsin, spent some time living in Nigeria, and finally moving back to America, it was inevitable that culture shock would occur.  In an interview with Jidenna after he blew up and became a household name for his song Classic Man, he was asked by the interviewer about his life growing up and moving from place to place.  He then told the interviewer that moving from place to place essentially introduced him to new and different cultures and styles of living (Nanner).  Jidenna then talked about the place he felt the most at connected with which was Nigeria.  This was because he lived there in his early childhood until he was six (Nanner).  In the process of moving to America, Boston specifically, he did note a disconnect between the actions and the cultures between Africans and African-Americans.  This question made me think about how black people in the United States claim their African roots but have never been there before.  This also made me think about the people of Africa and how they viewed African-Americans.  This disconnect between two groups of people that historically were once one the same group lead me to want to research the miscommunications and misinterpretations of how one another lives.

            In a novel titled “Kinship”, written by Philippe Wamba, there is a chapter that discussed how Tanzanian civilians viewed Americans.  The chapter stated that many citizens of Tanzania believed that United Stated was the perfect place.  They had the belief that the United States consisted of all white and wealthy people and no crimes took place there (Wamba, 1999). Boy were they wrong for so many reasons.  Wamba had to explain to the Tanzanians that crimes did take place in America and that America had people from all races.  Wamba even had to explain how millions of West Africans became slaves for hundreds of years.  I am not blaming them for not knowing the truth but this event explains how Western propaganda has led to many African nations to think that Western nations were a step away from heaven.  This imagery of having Western nations being portrayed as the best nations in the world most likely stems back to the precolonial era.  Many white men believed that it was the white man’s burden to help out “developing” nations and with that mindset of them being the chosen ones you can see why they decided to carve up Africa into colonies. 

            The disconnect of African-Americans to the realities of people in Africa is also problematic.  Many people of the United States refer to Africa as a nation where they are all the same people that is obviously not true.  There are multiple nations and even more ethnicities that are on the continent of Africa and to not know the way in which people live shows how big the disconnect is between the two groups.

References:                                                          

Nanner, Natasha. “The Product of a Fusion: Jidenna Interviewed.” Clash Magazine, 2017,
     www.clashmusic.com/.

Kinship: a Family’s Journey in Africa and America, by Philippe E. Wamba, Plume, 2000, pp.
     138–139.

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Blog Post 4

If you watch the music video Classic Man by Jidenna, one of the first things you would see is the high class and diversity of the individuals in the video.  In the video, no two people have the same fashion styles, dancing styles, or hairstyles.  As for the hairstyles, you can see styles ranging from afros to full beards for men and from all natural to straight hair for women.  The hairstyles in this video also take into fact the style of head wear associated with the hair itself.  Many people are wearing decorative hats to match the styles of their outfits.  Also, the barbershop in this music video, which is associated with good hair and hairstyles, brings in a sense of community where people can socialize and enjoy one another’s presence.  For this blog, I want to focus on the diversity of hairstyles and head wear and how a sense of community was built around them.

While researching the diversity of hairstyles and head wear in the continent of Africa, I came across an interesting article that stated that the head was a great site for aesthetics and symbolic elaboration of the body.  This article states that the head plays a central role in how the human being is abstracted and that there are many different interpretations of the head around the continent.  For instance, the Yoruba of Nigeria interpret the head as the seat of ori, personal destiny (Arnoldi & Kreamer, 1995). The Kaguru of Tanzania believe the head connects persons to birth and ultimately to the land of the dead (Arnoldi & Kreamer, 1995).  With all of these positive interpretations of the head around the continent, it is justifiable that the people across the continent would want to have the head dressed and styled well.

The style of the head wear and the hairstyle of the individual can be more than just an aesthetic, it can be symbolic of many different associations and meanings.  The head wear or hairstyle can denote membership to a certain religion, mark and celebrate a person’s life cycle, identify key participants at rituals and festivals, and designate military, hunters, musicians, and other specialties (Arnoldi & Kreamer, 1995).  In a nutshell, the hairstyle or head wear can be representative of one’s social status.

Towards the end of the music video, you can see Jidenna putting on a red, brimless hat.  This hat was familiar to me because I remember seeing that same hat in “Black and White in Color”.  From what I can remember in the movie, the red hat signified that you were in the military and that you were more liked by the whites than people without the red hats.  Although these red hats were used in a divisive manner when dealing with the colonists, they were effective in setting a status symbol over an individual’s head that gave them their role in the community.

References:

Arnoldi, Mary Jo, and Christine Mullen Kreamer. “Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the
Head.” African Arts, vol. 30, no. 2, 1995, pp. 22–35., doi:10.2307/3337425.

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Blog 3

While watching the music video Classic Man, there was a scene where Jidenna and Roman GianArthur were in a barber shop.  While in the barbershop, there was a sign that was hung on the wall that had the statement “I am a man”.  When I saw this sign, I realized that the sign had significance to the civil rights movement in the United States.  This “I am a man” sign was from a protest that was held in 1968 when black sanitation workers went on strike to protest the neglect and abuse of its black employees (Conover, 2018).  This strike caught the attention of many prolific black leaders of the time including Martin Luther King Jr. and this strike was able to demand safer conditions and better wages for the employees.  From looking at the significance of the “I am a man” sign and how black Americans fought for their equality, I wanted to see if the people of Nigeria used similar methods of dealing with oppression.  What I found was not what I was expecting.

While I was researching how Nigerians fought against oppression during and after the colonial era, I came across an article that discussed how different ethnicities in Nigeria oppressed and fought each other through battles and even wars to get their demands (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011).  This was a big curve ball to me because I was intending on finding articles about how the people of Nigeria came together to fight off the oppression of the Europeans.  Clearly, this lead me to the question of why they were fighting themselves and not the Europeans.  After reading more of the article, I found out that the “themselves” I was talking about included over 250 distinct ethnic groups, some of which were rivals (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011).  After Nigeria got its independence from Britain in 1960, tensions rose in Nigeria that led to a civil war in 1967.  This was because of regional differences arising in the country and certain areas of Nigeria tried to take advantage of other areas.  For example, the federal government was dominated numerically by the citizens in northern Nigeria and they had intervened with elections in western Nigeria (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011).  These actions had led to two military coups in 1966 (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011).

From reading in the article about how different these ethnicities were from one another, I thought it was crazy to have them all formed into one nation.  But the reason the nation came about was because of the Geneva Convention and the European nations carving up Africa into colonies.  Reading more into this article, I found out that specifically for Nigeria, there was a policy called the amalgamation policy that had a goal of joining the colonies of Britain into one nation (Agbiboa & Okem, 2011).  The three colonies were all of separate ethnicities and they would able been able to be functional nations on their own but the amalgamation policy forced the colonies to integrate into one nation.  This would be like combining Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico all into one country, there were different ways things were ran in these colonies and integrating them into one nation would not end well.  That is exactly what happened in Nigeria because it led to many battles and corrupted leaders in a nation that should have not have existed.  The British did a great job in getting out of the mess they had created because they were able to be on the outside looking in on the tension and violence that had emerged in Nigeria.

 

References:

Agbiboa, Daniel Egiegba, and Andrew Emmanuel Okem. “Unholy Trinity: Assessing the Impact
of Ethnicity and Religion on National Identity in Nigeria.” Peace Research, vol. 43, no. 2,
2011, pp. 98–125. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44779895.

Conover, Ted. “The Strike That Brought MLK to Memphis.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian
Institution, Jan. 2018, www.smithsonianmag.com/.

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Blog Post 1 (Revised)

With his music video having a whopping 64 and a half million views, I believe many people know Jidenna is a popular classic man.  Jidenna also has over a half a million likes on his video which leads me to think that people not only like the song, but the video as well.  If we dive deeper into the music video itself, we can see that there are many influences to his cinematic point of view that can be looked over in a quick glance.  One such thing about the video is its sense of fashion.  Throughout the course of the music video, you can see that everyone is dressed up in their best outfits.  People at the party are in formal wear, people walking down the street are in formal wear, and even the barbers are in formal wear.  The barbers in formal wear shocked me because why would a barber risk getting hair on such nice and expensive clothes?  Jidenna also switched between three really good looking suits throughout the video. What is the meaning of this?  Is Jidenna just trying to show that he can look nice in a music video or is there a deeper meaning to his fashion?  As we can speculate, of course there is a deeper meaning into his fashion sense because it roots itself back to the culture of the Nigerian Dandies.

The origin of the Dandian culture has a rough history because it is based on the racism of Europeans (specifically the French) in Africa.  When France had colonies in Africa, they had a policy known as “assimilation” that had a primary goal of changing the “natives” of Africa into Frenchmen (Sarvan, 1985).  In this policy, French culture, institutions, and language was to be transported down to Africa so the Africans could become Frenchmen (except for their race and color of course) (Sarvan, 1985).  The importation of European tailored clothes down to Africa was also included in this system and it helped signify the emergence of a European civilization (De Stefani, 2017).  This policy was enacted until the slave trade was finally abolished and the colonies were liberated in 1960 (Chafer, 2017).  This liberation from France now allowed the West African men to create a unique fashion style that was different from the French.  Thus the style of the dandies were born.

The first dandies were began in the cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa and then quickly spread its influence through Africa and Europe.  The Nigerian Dandies is a subculture of the extraordinarily dressed dandies.  These men had a dress code that typically consisted of three-piece suits paired with leather shoes, but they also wore sports and casual clothes (De Stefani, 2017). The dandian culture also expressed more than just fashion, they had a way of living that pushed for an apolitical, peaceful way of living (De Stefani, 2017).  The culture of the Dandies has been able to grow away from its racist origins and has now influenced many fashion icons such as Andre 3000, Pharrell Williams, and Jidenna.  Through these men and others like them, the Dandian culture has spread its influence in fashion to millions of people around the world.

 

References:

Chafer, Tony. “Decolonization in French West Africa.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of
African History
, 2017, africanhistory.oxfordre.com/.

De Stefani, Lucia. “The Eccentric Lifestyle of La Sape Dandies.” A Curated Platform for
Contemporary Photography | PHmuseum
, 2017, phmuseum.com/.

Sarvan, C. P. “French Colonialism in Africa: The Early Novels of Ferdinand Oyono.” World Literature
Today
, vol. 59, no. 3, 1985, pp. 333–337. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40140837.

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Blog Post 2

While watching the music video of Classic Man, there was a scene that showed two teenagers getting handcuffed by police officers after allegedly committing some crime.  Later on in the music video, Jidenna and a group of people talk to the police officers asking for the teens to be released from custody.  After the officers let the kids go, Jidenna then takes the teens to an academy where the learn manners and respect for one another.  Also in the academy, there are other kids learning how to play chess and perform scientific experiments.  These events in this music video led me to think about how great it would be for there to be a focus on educating and mentoring young children to prepare them for the lives ahead of them.  To connect the events in the music video to class, I was wanted to research how youth development in West Africa, particularly the education in Nigeria was structured.

After doing more research into this topic, I found out that the education system in Nigeria was primarily influenced by British literature.  This is because Nigeria was a colony of Great Britain and Nigeria had its culture influenced by them, including their style of education.  Also, in December of 1920, American educational specialists spent a month in Nigeria reform the structure of education for Nigerian youths (Chicago Defender).  From these Western influences, the literature that was taught in junior classes in high schools were primarily the works of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens, Hardy, along with many other British authors (Osa, 1986). Although these are classic and well respected authors form the Western culture, the Nigerian students did not mix well with this style of writing, mainly because the texts dealt with issues and concepts that were outside of their cultural environment (Osa, 1986).  It wasn’t until the late 1940s that Nigerian literature was introduced and not until the 1970s until Nigerian literature became popular among the nation (Osa, 1986).

This information interests me because it shows how little the Nigerian children were taught about their own culture through books.  All of the characters in their assigned reading were white and the issues and adventures of the characters were written for European and North American children.  The introduction of Nigerian literature in the 1940s and the popularity of the literature in the 1970s was a great step up from the past because it allows Nigerian children to see their culture in novels. This is necessary because the Nigerian children needed stories and images that are relevant to their own environment.  This is critically important in children’s books because it is among the young that the desire to read must take hold (Osa, 1986).

It is also alarming at how recent the Nigerian literature came to be.  The history of Nigerian literature is fairly short and it only goes back one generation.  This is not enough time for the evolution of Nigerian literature to become its own distinct style of writing.  Of course Nigerian writing was influenced by Britain and the United States but if the Nigerians were left alone I wonder what kinds of writing styles and stories Nigerian novels would have been like after generations of evolution in their writing.

 

References:

“American Educators Arrive in Monrovia to Begin Work Among the Natives” Chicago Defender
23 Oct. 1920: Web. 11 Oct. 2018

Osa, Osayimwense. “The New Nigerian Youth Literature.” Journal of Reading, vol. 30, no. 2,
1986, pp. 100–104. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40017370.

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