Saturday, 31 December 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Wishing all our numerous fans a Happy New Year. May 2017 bring us
all good tidings.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Shigidi or Shugudu

Shigidi, or Shugudu, is deified nightmare. The name appears to mean "something short and bulky," and the god, or demon, is represented by a broad and short head, made of clay, or, more commonly, by a thick, blunted cone of clay, which is ornamented with cowries, and is no doubt emblematic of the head.

Shigidi is an evil god, and enables man to gratify his hate in secret and without risk to himself. When a man wishes to revenge himself upon another he, offers a sacrifice to Shigidi, who thereupon proceeds at night to the house of the person indicated and kills him. His mode of procedure is to squat upon the breast of his victim and "press out his breath;" but it often happens that the tutelary deity of the sufferer comes to the rescue and wakes him, uponwhich Sbigidi leaps off, falls upon the earthen floor, and disappears, for he only has power over man dur ing sleep. This superstition still lingers among the negroes of the Bahamas of Yoruba descent, who talk of being "hagged," and believe that nightmare is caused by a demon that crouches upon the breast of the sleeper. The word nightmare is itself a survival from a similar belief once held by ourselves, mare being the Anglo-Saxon mære, elf or goblin.

The person -who employs Shigidi, and sends him out to kill, must remain awake till the god returns, for if he were to fall asleep Shigidi would at that moment turn back, and the mission would fail. Shigidi either travels on the wind, or raises a wind to waft him along; on this point opinions differ. The first symptom of being attacked by Shigidi, is a feeling of heat and oppression at the pit of the stomach, "like hot, boiled rice," said a native. If a man experiences this when he is falling asleep, it behoves him to get up at once and seek the protection of the god he usually serves.

Houses and enclosed yards can be placed under the guardianship of Shigidi. In order to do this a hole is dug in the earth and a fowl, sheep, or, in ancient times with exceptional cases, a human victim was slaughtered, so that the blood drains into the hole, and is then buried. A short, conical mound of red earth is next built over the spot, and an earthen saucer placed on the summit to receive occasional sacrifices. When a site has thus been placed under the protection of Shigidi, he kills, in his typical manner, those who injure the buildings, or who trespass there with bad intentions.
*culled from www.awonifa.com

Thursday, 29 December 2016

THE DEITY CALLED OLOKUN

O LOKUN (oni-okun , he who owns the sea), "Lord of the Sea," is the sea-god of the Yorubas. He is one of those who came from the body of Yemaja.
As man worships that from which he has most to fear, or from which he hopes to receive the greatest benefits, the inland tribes pay little or no attention to Olokun, who is, however, the chief god of fishermen and of all others whose avocations take them upon the sea. When Olokun is angry he causes the sea to be rough and stirs up a raging surf upon the shore; and it is he who drowns men, upsets boats or canoes, and causes shipwrecks.
Olokun is not the personally divine sea but an anthropomorphic conception. He is of human shape and black in colour, but with long flowing hair, and resides in a vast palace under the sea, where he is served by a number of sea-spirits, some of whom are human in shape, while others partake more or less of the nature of fish. On ordinary occasions animals are sacrificed to Olokun, but when the condition of the surf prevents canoes from putting to sea for many days at a time, a human victim is offered to appease him. It is said that such sacrifices have been made in recent times, even at Lagos, by the people of the Isaleko quarter, who are chiefly worshippers of Olokun. The sacrifice was of course secret, and according to native report the canoemen used to watch by night till they caught some solitary wayfarer, whom they gagged and conveyed across the lagoon to the sea-shore, where they struck off his head and threw the body into the surf.
A myth says that Olokun, becoming enraged with mankind on account of their neglect of him, endeavoured to destroy them by overflowing the land; and had drowned large numbers when Obatala interfered to save the remainder, and forced Olokun back to his palace, where he bound him with seven iron chains till he promised to abandon his design. This, perhaps, has reference to some former encroachment of the sea upon the low-lying sandy shores, which are even now liable to be submerged at spring-tides.[1]
Olokun has a wife named Olokun-su, or Elusu, who lives in the harbour bar at Lagos. She is white in colour and human in shape, but is covered with fish-scales from below the breasts to the hips. The fish in the waters of the bar are sacred to her, and should anyone catch them, she takes vengeance by upsetting canoes and drowning the occupants. A man who should be so ill-advised as to attempt to fish on the bar would run a great risk of being
[1. Another myth of this nature has been mentioned in Chapter II., under Ifa.]
thrown overboard by the other canoemen. Olokunsu is an example of a local sea-goddess, originally, as on the Gold Coast at the present day, considered quite independent, being attached to the general god of the sea, and accounted for as belonging to him.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Esu (Eshu or Elegbara)

Guardian and witness of the truth.
Èşù mansemi O.
Èşù please do not hurt me.
Aşé O!…
Note: Esu is the divine messenger, who guides us in our destiny, the owner of the crossroads and, most importantly, he is in charge of the frontier between the earth and heavens. Esu is one of the most important deities in this religion; he must be informed of every action which is taken. This does not mean that a sacrifice to him must be done for every action; there are other ways to achieve his participation. He is the divine messenger and guardian of the truth in our daily lives. Esu is in charge of shaking our conscience in order to free it from self-indulgence and thoughts without changes or transformations. Esu will always remind us that the search for the human truth must never stop. In essence, it is important to be honest and to keep a balance according to the constant changes. There are different Esu who have the power to change everything: Esu Laroye (who was the first Esu to arrive on the earth). Lode, Laboni, Alawana (Cuban-natives), Eleegbaa, Alaje, Ija, Abilu, Awure Ola, Sigidi, Agogo, Iranse, etc.

Praises of Esu

Esu Odara ota orisa,
Omo okunrin Idalofin,
O le sonso sori ese elese,
Ko je, ko je keniti o je o je.
A sotun sosi lai nitiju.
Esu apata somo olomo lenu.
Atuka mase e sa.
Esu mase mi mase omo elomii!
Ase ooo!!!....

TRANSLATION

Esu, an enemy to other deities,
The son of ldalofin,
The troublesome and aggressive.
He will not eat something,
yet, he will stop others
from eating it.
He strikes balance with
an offender and the offended.
He forces pepper into
the throat of those
who don't want it.
Broken yet difficult to
put together.
Do not disturb me o.
And, do not disturb others! 
Ase ooo!!!......

Obatala or Orisanla : Spirit of the light and conscience


He represents the power of light to transform into matter. He is the God creator of men, justice and purity. He is totally respected by everyone. His dances represent the movements of an eternal old man, with slow and tired steps, or the steps of a young warrior who impose justice with the sword. His color is white. His attribute is an Irukere, a symbol of royalty. Mo mirele Amoru…Even the king of Ife.
There is a great controversy about this deity; in Cuba he is known as Ọbàtálá, Òrìşànlá, Obamoro, Ayaguna and Obalofun, among others, as different types of Ọbàtálá; there are even eight who are feminine and eight masculine. 

Nevertheless, in the Yoruba land this version is refuted; only one Ọbàtálá is acknowledged and the situation is that this deity had different nicknames, but he is only known as a man and his wife was Yemoo. He is the leader of the Orisas in the world, he provides the destiny to the new ones, together with Ajala Mopin..etc, Ileke, Sesefun.

Praises of Obatala 

Obatala Alare,
Onibi Akoka,
Ajif'ogbon inu ire koni,
Atewo la ba'la,
Obatala lo ko.
Oba to ta ta ta,
To taala bole.
Obatala Ajala lalamo
to n mori.

TRANSLATION

Obatala is called Alare,
The maker of our destiny,
Teaching mankind the
potent knowledge and wisdom,
The lines on our palms
are written by Obatala.
Obatala dominates the sky
and the mother earth.
Obatala is called Ajala,
the molder of our heads.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

ANKARA FABRICS

Looking for the latest ankara styles to sew as aso-ebi for an upcoming wedding? You can use ankara to sew latest styles and designs for women – trendy, in-vogue ankara gowns and skirt and blouse styles, and ankara trousers that you can wear to a Nigerian wedding, or to any occasion.

Ankara clothing is loved by Nigerian women as aso-ebi fabric, sewn into different styles and worn at weddings. It's common to see ankara combined with lace, chiffon or other materials. Even when ankara is used to sew casual wears and other traditional wears.

For the benefit of those who don't have an idea about the origin and history of this fabric, ankara is the name of the popular, patterned, cotton fabric extensively worn by Africans. Some call it ankara print, ankara wax, or simply 'wax' or 'print'. Ankara is synonymous with 'traditional wear' in Nigeria. 

Popular brands of this fabric include: vlisco ankara wax, uniwax, Ghana wax, English wax, Dutch wax, Nigerian wax, woodin print and a whole lot of other African print fabric brands.

Because this fabric is commonly called the 'African cloth', one would think that it originated from Africa. Thing is, it did not – the Europeans were some of those that started manufacturing the fabric that we all now know as 'ankara'. In fact, the ones regarded as the high quality ankara are made in Europe – with Vlisco's Hollandais being one of so-called best ankara wax.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Ori Apere : The Inner Spirit

He is the inner spirit. The conscience is the only thing capable of transforming the destiny. This Orisha is in charge of the destiny of each of us, ha can change a negative destiny to a positive one.

The Yorubas say that our head is an Orisha which requires worshipping and attention in order for us to align ourselves, find harmony and carry on in a positive manner here on earth, on the path to our destiny. Ori is received as Orishas as well, and ceremonies are held together with our heads (ori). This deity makes it possible that the sacrifices are accepted by Olodumare. 

This deity is highly recommended for any person following the Yoruba religion as Omo Ifá (godchildren), Iyalòrìşà or Babalòrìşà (Santera or Santero) and Awo Òrúnmìlà (Ifá's bishops). Ifá established for the human beings that one person is not fruitful due to his/her Ifá sign; the problems of the persons do not involve the Orishas but the person himself. This is the reason why an Ori must be favored in order for the person to improve his/her destiny through his/her conscience. The sacrifice for any financial event will have to be a priority in order to ensure the business or the economic wellbeing.

Labalaba fo jagba jagba de Ijagba;
O difa fun won ni Ijagba;
Nibi won gbe nsun orun koorun;
Ifa ni oro yi o si lowo oso;
Kosi lowo aje;
Owo ori lo n be;
Ori mi apere;
Atakara ileke;
Adaniwaye, mase gbagbe mi.

TRANSLATION

Butterfly flew anyhow to Ijagba town;
Meeting the people there having nightmare in their sleep;
So, they consulted Ifa over the matter;
Thinking that the witches and wizards had a hand in their problem;
But Ifa enjoined them to appease their heads;
And they thanked Ifa for the revelation.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Yoruba Culture and Tradition : 10 Cultural Taboos in Yoruba Land

A Strapped Baby 
Every people everywhere have their cultural ways of life and what is considered normal and acceptable for community folks in those areas. The need to sanitize the society and prevent cultural abuses has led to the establishment of cultural taboos and abominations – what people in given areas must never do to keep the society going.

The Igbos, Hausas, Ibibios, Igalas, Beroms, and every tribe in Nigeria and other parts of the world have cultural taboos; the following are those of the Yorubas and what you must never do in Yorubaland:

i. Same-sex marriage is forbidden: Americans and people in Europe may have legalized same-sex marriage – that is, gay and lesbian marriages, but it is forbidden in Yorubaland. Some people in the northern part of this country have been caught in the act of sexual union between males, but such is an abomination in Yorubaland and must never be practised.

ii. A strapped baby must never fall from its mother's back: It is an abomination in Yorubaland for a baby to fall from its mother's back. And this is why many new mothers are warned to strap their babies firmly to their back again if their baby is not well positioned. It is believed that a male child that falls from its mother's back will always lose his wife at adulthood, and a female will always have a lover die atop her when she grows up. And where a baby eventually falls from its mother's back, the mother is expected to carry out some rituals to prevent evil from happening to the child when it grows.

iii. Suicide is an abomination: Committing suicide is an abomination in Yorubaland, and a dangling body must not be lowered down until some sacrifices are performed to appease the gods. Even at that, the body of such individual will be buried in the evil forest and outside town to avoid the anger of the gods. The family of an individual that commits suicide will be tainted forever in the community.

iv. Pregnant women must never walk the streets in broad daylight: What this means is that pregnant women must not go about the streets or go to the market or go to the stream when the sun is high up at its zenith – between 12 pm – 3 pm when the sun is at its brightest. It is believed that evil spirits roam the town when the sun is at its brightest and they could enter into a pregnant woman, making her to give birth to deformed babies.

v. Whistling at night is forbidden: Men and women are not allowed to whistle at nights in Yorubaland. Whistling at nights is believed to invite demons and evil spirits into the house to torment people. Additionally, it is believed that whistling could attract snakes and reptiles into the house at night.

vi. Adultery is forbidden: It is forbidden for married women to commit adultery with another man who is not their husbands. This taboo is more critical against women than against men, so it is highly frowned upon for a wife to cheat on her husband. A man that suspects that his wife is cheating could be tempted to lace her with magun, and this would lead to the death of her adulterous lover.

vii. A king must never look inside his royal crown: It is an abomination for a king in Yorubaland to look into the inside of his royal crown. A king must wear a crown but he must never peer into it. The day he does it is the day he will join his ancestors. Kings could be allowed to do this if they insist on committing suicide.

viii. Corpse of a person that drowns must not be brought for burial at home: What this means is that the corpse of a person who dies in a river must be buried near the river, and the corpse of a person who falls from a tree must be buried at the base of the tree. Bringing their corpses home is believed to irk the gods who may cause people to die without causes.

ix. A king must never prostrate for anyone again in his entire life: A royal king is considered a demi-god in Yorubaland and he must never prostrate to greet anyone in his entire life.

x. Eating of cats, dogs, pigs are forbidden: It is generally considered unclean to consume dog meat, pork, and cat meat among others. While many Yorubas will never taste dog meat but gladly consume African rabbit (Okete), the Ondo people considers Okete an abomination but will gladly eat dog meat with relish.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

IGUNNUKO AND THEIR GLAMOUR

Igunnuko cult is a Tapa cult from Pategi in Niger State of Nigeria. It was brought down to Lagos by Yaisa Ayani, the great grandfather of Aleje in 1805.

Yaisa Ayani's people saw what other tribes were doing with their own cults during a festival and this motivated them to put pressure on their man to go and bring their own cult which is used not only for festival performances, but also to appease the gods. A ritual performance is done when they sense that an outbreak of any disease or war is approaching.

In 1814 Yaisa Ayani went to his home town in Pategi, Niger State and brought the Igunnuko Cult to Lagos. It first settled at Odo-Oba (Oju-Oto), his residence. He bought some ingredients with which some rituals were performed, it was after these rituals that it started coming out.

Later when this place could not accommodate them again, Yaisa Ayani went to Chief I Oshodi Tapa, a Nupe man and an important war chief in Lagos, to appeal to him to give him a place to be used as (IBASOSHI) Igbo-Igunnu which Chief Oshodi Tapa joyfully gave to him and which is known as "IGBO-IGUNNU EPETEDO" till today. It was from this place that Igunnuko cult spread all over modern day Lagos State. This place is also known as the origin of Igunnuko in Lagos State.

Chief Abiodun Thomas, the Idaso of Igunnuko (head of the Igunnuko cult) in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos, says that the festival is done between January and February each year and the festival lasts for fourteen days. When it is time for the festival or an occasion calls for its ritual performance, a ritual performance is first done for the pot drum before anyone beats it. To perform the festival or ritual ceremony, the following are required: - one native goat, duck, pigeon, snail, hen, rooster, black turtle, cotton wool, calabash, kolanut, bitter kolanut, natoive wine, hot drink, three yards of white cloth and some other useful items.

The festival starts when all these are ready. The young and old men (alone) will go to uproot a living tree. This is called kuso and when they are returning from kuso, any place that trees are dragged or passed with means a lot.

When the festival is on, the igunnuko masquerades are seen. The igunnuko dresses in robes on stilts, it is a very tall figure and is also a secret cult used to hunt witches. It parades the streets and visits important people. On sighting an igunnuko one has to remove his hat and shoes. The tall, graceful shape of the masquerades, their ability to telescope into any height at all and their other amazing display of agility in spite of their height, make these masquerades and their performance a fascinating sight. A companion of the igunnuko is the Salumogi, a very short masquerade that holds a whip and clears the way for the Igunnuko.
*culled from www.nairaland.com

Friday, 23 December 2016

FURA DE NONO

NIGERIAN corn flakes". That's how Munir describes the drink he buys in a bottle that looks like milk with brown flecks in it.

He says he buys it "to quench my hunger". Munir has just bought several bottles from his regular supplier in Wuse Market in Nigeria's capital. She knows he doesn't like it too sweet, so adds only a tiny amount of sugar.
Others like it super sweet and ask for lots of sugar to be added.

Businessman Munir is not alone in his love for the meal-drink. It originates from northern Nigeria, a specialty of the Fulani people, but loved and drunk all over the region.

Traditionally it is sold in a round
calabash bowl and eaten with a ladle or spoon. But these days, more and more, especially in the cities, it is common to see the Fulani women selling it in plastic water bottles.

Some customers drink it straight from the bottle, leaving thick milky marks around their mouths. Others ladle it from a calabash or plastic bowl, like
soup.

Called Fura Da Nono or Fura for short, Munir says it tastes very much like porridge oats.
I'm not sure I agree with that
description but it's not bad. The bottles I buy from Aisha in the market taste very much like plain and tart yoghurt.
I don't detect oats in it – but then everyone has different tastes. Aisha lives on the outskirts of Abuja and
brings her wares to the market each day to sell.

Fura is actually yoghurt mixed with ground millet and spices and some sugar for those who prefer to take the edge off the tart taste.
The milk often comes from the family's own cows, which they milk in the early hours of the day.

Aisha says she has more than 100 cows, of which she milks about 50 a day to get the base for the milky substance she sells.

The Fulani people, found across West Africa and in Nigeria's north, are traditional herdsmen and they are often seen droving their long-horned cows around the countryside.
Aisha is one of dozens of women who sell Fura Da Nono from an uncovered area of the crazy-busy Wuse Market in Abuja.

The women sit on wooden stools in the sun, which can be unbearably hot.
There are occasional small hand
umbrellas, tied to posts, to give some shade from the heat of the day.
In front and around them are big plastic buckets with lids full of the milk/yoghurt. In other buckets are round brown balls of the ground millet, mixed with spices like pepper, ginger and cloves.

They ladle the milk substance into a round bowl, squash a millet ball into it and then stir and mix with ladles until the millet is mixed through thoroughly.
As they sit and stir, you can often see the rich cream rising to the surface. This is often skimmed off to make butter, which is also sold separately or mixed into the Fura to give it a rich taste.

The women sell it for between 100 Naira and 250 Naira – about 66c to $1.65 a bottle. Some buy it to drink there and then, others take it home and others prefer to have it in a bowl like soup.
In other more rural areas, on the
outskirts of town, it is more common to see it mixed in a calabash.
Women also carry all the ingredients around in buckets on top of their heads, stopping in villages to sell to hungry
customers by the side of the road.

Munir says it is like a meal that he finishes off and washes down with water.
"Whenever I go to the market my kids always ask for it. If I am buying things in the market I always stop and buy it,"
he says of his whole family's love for Fura.
"Some people take it like custard."
Another buyer, Lukman, says some people can drink more than one bottle of Fura at a time, they love it so much.
Think, eating a one litre pot of plain yoghurt in one sitting.

My friend Abigail says she drinks it because it is healthy and good for the body.

"It is nourishing," she says.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

AYO OLOPON : REVIVING A DYING CULTURAL HERITAGE

Many aspects of Nigerian cultures are gradually fading out. The most common feature, which is language, is even the
most affected – with many young people now finding it 'trendy' to say they do not understand their language.
But efforts are also being made to revive some of these cultural elements.
Ayo olopon, a popular traditional game in Yorubaland and indeed some other tribes, for instance, is in the class of such traditional values that may be 'redeemed'. It is a game played on a wooden board with two rows of six holes by two to four competitors, and
revered for its entertainment values.
Also called tota tope, it became popular when it left the confines of the household and community. It became a
part of the Osun Osogbo Festival about 16 years ago. Ever since, it has not only remained permanent feature, but is also gradually finding its way into other festivals.

According to the presenter of the game at the festival, Kayode Adewoyin, who spoke with our correspondent, the aim of making it a part of the festival is to keep the game alive in the minds of Nigerians.

He says, "Since the inception of this festival and the game, this will be the first time the Oba will be a part of it as a participant. This shows that it is getting
better awareness. We also play the game in over 70 other Yoruba festivals.
Most boys, these days, believe in
foreign games such as football. In the past it used to be those traditional games that our forefathers used to relax
at the end of the day's work. Then, they had time to exchange village gossip and other events. But what we have today
are snookers and play stations, which are alien to our culture."

Adewoyin also says there are efforts to incorporate the game into national sports festivals where contestants will represent their states."When we started this game in Osun Osogbo in 1996, we did not know it will
grow up to this length. Now we have even been to the eastern part of the country where we also found out that the game is not strange.

So we are currently exploring all avenues at reviving it. It is our cultural heritage. We are already working with the National
Sports Council for a competition in October, where people will represent their states after zonal contests. We don't want this traditional game to just die down," he says

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Famous Adire Merchants of Abeokuta (Concluding Part)

She added that, when she was young, her mother insisted that she learn the trade but she was a bit reluctant. "The stress then in the process was just too much for a young person like me. Soaking the materials especially was hectic. 

The stress is still there. Look, you met us arranging the clothes. We have been at it for some days now. But with time, I have come to appreciate the uniqueness of the trade and have come to love it. Many of us are now passing the knowledge down to our children.
Some people come to us that they want to learn, but at the end they don't show seriousness. I have a graduate daughter and an undergraduate son who are both learning the trade under me at present. We know that if we do not pass the knowledge down to them it will die a natural death. Now with their academic knowledge we all sit down to plan how to make more intricate designs that were not possible during the ancient times. 

There are some designs that if you have not been adequately trained to do, you will not be able to do, so we teach them everything while urging them to reach the pinnacle of their academics," she said.

Asked if the fabrics are affordable, she said they are not expensive. "Nigerians by custom love flashy and expensive things. But here, we make sure all classes of people can afford to buy materials once they come here. There is always something for you to pick up no matter how much you have. If you want the cheaper ones you can have them. If it's the expensive ones, special designs like the ones used by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, you will also have them. But one thing you will be sure of, is that they are all of good quality. Your bargaining power is also essential.

She said most of the raw materials used in the industry are imported from other countries. China, according to her, is a major supplier of cotton materials. She said importers bring the materials to Kano, where they go to retail.

She lamented, however, that Custom officials harass them on the road and extort money from them. "A consignment of goods just came in a few days ago that was delayed for several days by customs officials. They only released it when N1 million was paid to them. Several consignments have been seized in the past and nothing was done about them. Why should we be harassed just for going to bring down goods from Kano? We need the federal government to look into this issue as it is affecting our business. We are just business people making honest and legitimate living. We also want government to resuscitate our moribund textiles industry like the United Textiles, Gaskiya Textile, Arewa Textiles etc so that we will not need to look outside the shores of the country to get materials. Even the candles we use in processing the Adire is imported from England. We also urge the state government to quickly finish the road construction at Kemta, so that our members that have been displaced can return to their stalls. God has blessed this country. It is only in this small Kemta enclave in Abeokuta that people come all the way from different parts of the world to buy Adire. So why don't we celebrate ourselves?"

Mrs Temilola Sadiq is one of the numerous traders at the market. She said she has been in the trade for over 17 years. "I was born into it. Initially I was not so involved in it. I was just soaking the fabrics for new to production. But now I am fully into it. When I started I was using a small shack at the roadside but over the years I have saved enough to have my own shop in the market. We are making sure that the trade does not die with us that is why we involve our kids in the day to day running of our businesses. 
Although I do not have a daughter, I have a son who I am training to take over from me."

Princess Mansurat Adunni also shares the same excitement. "I started over 17 years ago. My mother introduced me to it when I was young. The proceeds from the trade were used by our parents to train us. We are doing the same. My daughter follows me to work every day to learn the trade. We face challenges everyday but with God's grace we are surmounting them."
One of the products of the informal 'Adire making' school is young graduate, Folashade, who spoke to Sunday Trust. She said she has taken her mother's line of work when she could not get gainful employment after graduating from university.
"When I graduated I waited for like three years without a job. Then I decided to help out in the trade. This is what I have been doing since I was in primary school, so deciding to use it as means of making ends meet, was an easy decision for me. I have no regrets. 
If I get a white collar job today I will not abandon the trade. I even intend to pass it on to my kids when they come of age and show interest."

A customer, Mrs Adeko who came from Ondo town to buy the fabrics, told Sunday Trust that the Kemta market is a magnet for all lovers of quality fabrics. 'I came all the way from my base to buy materials here. Here you get the original. They have unique Kampala products you cannot get anywhere else. I also brought my faded clothes so that they can dye them for me with quality dye," she said.
*culled from www.dailytrust.com.ng

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Famous Adire Merchants of Abeokuta (Part 2)

She also explained that when British trading firms flooded the textile market with colourful, inexpensive printed materials, the adire industry rose to meet the challenge. The women discovered that the imported white cotton shirting was cheaper than handwoven cloth and could be decorated and dyed to meet local tastes.

The soft, smooth texture of the imported cloth, in contrast to the rough surface of kijipa cloth, provided a new impetus for decoration. The soft shirting encouraged the decorators to create smaller, more precise patterns with tie-dye methods and to use raffia threads to produce finely patterned stitch-resistant Adire Alabere. The smooth surface of shirting led to the development of hand-painted starch-resistant Adire Eleko.

Abeokuta has remained the major producer and selling centre of Adire, but Ibadan, a larger city to the north, become a nucleus of women artists who specialized in hand-painted Adire Eleko. The wrapper design Ibadandun ("Ibadandun" meaning "the city of Ibadan is sweet") is popular to fill this day.'

Otun Iya Oloja, Mrs Olukemi Odunlayo insisted that Abeokuta will continue to lead the way in the Adire trade. She also took the reporter down an intricate lane spanning the making of the locally made, but internationallly acclaimed fabrics.

Chief Mrs Olukemi Odunlayo is the Otun Iya Oloja of Kemta. She said the trade is an ancient one, as old as Abeokuta itself, adding that the trade was handed down to them by their progenitors and they in turn, intend to pass it on to their descendants.
"Here, we focus mainly on the sale of adire and Kampala materials. There are other marketers of other goods in our midst but they are few," she said.
According to her, Abeokuta is still the largest Adire market in Africa. "This is an ancient trade that has spanned centuries in Abeokuta. This is the tale we met when we started. We were told that the trade is a strict family preserve. 

It is passed down from one generation to another. The shop that I was using for my trade that was demolished by the state government was passed down to me by my mother, who also inherited it from her mother.
"When our mothers started the trade in ancient times they used local lanterns to press the fabrics and people patronised them from many parts of the nation. When modernity came, they started using some modern equipment to make the trade easier. Nowadays that the trade is blossoming even white men come all the way from their countries to buy the fabrics," she added.

With nostalgia written all over her face, Iya Oloja recounted how she participated in the making of Adire as a child.
"When we started as kids we were the ones who would gather the materials to be processed. We would also be the ones to gather candles to be used in making intricate designs on the materials. We usually did that after school hours. Then, we used to process the materials in bales of five yards each. 

Some had close to 120 pieces while others had about 60 pieces. We usually did just one design which we called Alaale. Alaale then was the nearest to maroon colour we have today. With modern technology we now have brown and the gold, and different other colours.
"We usually used the Aro Dudu (black dye) back then, which was used to process the ancient Adire fabrics we were taught by our forbears. Then it was the same dye used for painting houses that our mothers made use of. 

We still make use of it today but with modern technology we now have different variants of the dye-yellow, navy blue etc. Nowadays with the aid of computers, we now have different designs which we play with, that our mothers never envisaged was possible. In time past, some of these things were done manually, especially the use of candles to make intricate designs, but nowadays that has reduced, though it is still an integral part of the process. 

Today we are mainly into what we call freehand processing. This means that, apart from the use of the candle to bring out the design we also use needles to enhance the various colours. There is the Eleko variant, the thread variant etc. These are just some of the rarities we now have that were not there in the past," she explained further.

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Famous Adire Merchants of Abeokuta by Tosin Omoniyi

For centuries, Egba women had ensured that the Adire (tie-dyeing) industry does not die by passing the intricate designing skills to their daughters.

The expansive Kemta Adire market in the heart of the historic town of Abeokuta bear vestiges of an age long trade that has engaged women for centuries. Sprawling at the feet of the Itoko , with its old red roofs, the market attracts tens of thousands of traders and tourists alike on a daily basis.

But construction work at the market is threatening to the market of its age and history. A bridge construction near the market has resulted into some stalls being pulled down and some of the Adire traders displaced. Business, however, still booms at the market as the displaced traders have found new spots to display their exotic fabrics.

Our reporter who visited Kemta found the regimented structure of the market intriguing. Some of the Egba women, who adorned themselves in their traditional Adire Bubas and towering headgears to match, sat at the doors of their stalls with bales of assorted Adire piled to the ceilings, patiently waiting for customers. Any attempt to engage them in light-hearted talk failed as they all kept mute.

Attempts by our reporter to get information about the market from several of the women did not yield results. They had to hold an emergency meeting before they decided that our reporter speak with one Iya Oloja, who appeared to be the market superintendant."Nobody will speak with you even if you walk around the whole market for the next few days. 

This is the way we operate at the market. We are all disciplined. Your best bet is to strike an agreement with the Iya Oloja or any of the officials of the market. They are the only ones who can persuade any of the market women to speak to you." One of the women who was a bit sympathetic to our reporter said.

A quick phone call to Iya Oloja, an affable elderly lady did the magic.  Women who appeared to have their lips were sealed suddenly became loquacious. With enthusiasm, they narrated how, for centuries, the trade has endured. They are very passionate about what they do. They have a common trend in their testimonies. Having received the baton from their mothers in time past, their greatest wish is to pass same down the line to their children.

Tie-dyeing of the fabrics into flamboyant traditional styles has been in existence for ages. The exquisite patterns which bear traditional Yoruba emblems and artefects are made by tying and stitching with raffia or cotton thread, or by using chicken feathers to dab painted cassava paste on the cloth which then, acts as a resistant dye, much like the wax method used on batiks (the Indonesian version). Adire is a sparsely-dyed cloth produced and worn by the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria in West Africa. 

The Yoruba label Adire, which means "tied and dyed," was first applied to indigo-dyed cloth decorated with alternating patterns at the turn of the twentieth century.

With the introduction of a broader colour palette of imported synthetic dyes in the second half of the twentieth century, the label "Adire" was expanded to include a variety of hand-dyed textile using wax resistant batik methods to produce patterned cloth in a dazzling array of dye tints and hues.

Angela Sancartier, a clothing and fashion researcher traces the genesis of adire to Abeokuta. She said: "As a distinctive textile type, adire first appeared in the city of Abeokuta, a centre for cotton production, weaving, and indigo-dyeing in the nineteenth century. The prototype was tie-dyed kijipa, a handwoven cloth dyed with indigo for use as wrappers and covering cloths. Female specialists dyed yarns and cloth and also recycled faded clothing by re-dyeing the cloth with tie-dyed patterns."
*****To be continued *****

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Lesotho Holidays and Festivals

Lesotho holidays are centered around
Christianity and the rich heritage and
culture of the country. There are also
celebrations of independence, and
events linked to the troubled times
leading up to the political stability of the
present day. The two favorites in all
Basotho are the Morija Arts and Cultural
Festival and King Moshoeshoe I's Day.

Moshoeshoe's Day

On March 11, Bosotho people get
together in celebration of the life and
reign of Moshoeshoe the Great,
Lesotho's first king who died in 1870. A
great leader and talented diplomat, the
king was responsible for the
preservation of much of the cultural
heritage still thriving today, as well as
the establishment of Christianity
through his welcoming of European
missionaries.

Family Day

Family Day in early March is a
celebration of one of the pillars of the
country's culture. Family get-togethers
involve workers returning to their
villages for the day to eat, drink and
have a great time.

Easter

Easter week, usually in April, is the
year's most important religious festival,
with all the usual parades, church
attendances and family get-togethers.
Most Basotho take their Christianity
very seriously, with Easter Sunday a day
of pure joy.

Morija Arts and Cultural
Festival

The favorite event in Lesotho, the Arts
and Cultural Festival, is held every
September or October for five days in
and around the capital. It is a feast of
theater, poetry, dance, music, song,
crafts, art exhibits, and everything in
between. The festival showcases
performances of jazz, modern music,
African movies, and much more, and
draws tens of thousands of visitors.

Independence Day

Independence Day, which falls on
October 4, celebrates the country's
release from British colonialism and its
emergence as a free state. The day is a
national holiday, celebrated all over the
little country with traditional events,
costumes, songs, dance, and musical
performances. The city streets and
villages come alive with revelers, while
the Lesotho Royal Family greets foreign
diplomats and important visitors from
other African countries.

Lesotho Jazz Festival

The Lesotho Jazz festival takes place in
the capital every December, attracting
musicians from other southern nations
as well as from all over Lesotho. Jazz is
popular all over Africa, with this event
focusing on music as an integral part of
social development. Set in the heart of
the tourist season, the event draws
spectators from many countries.

Christmas

Almost all Basotho are Christians, with
the faith's religious holidays celebrated
in true African fashion with church
services, family gatherings and the
glorious full-voiced African harmonies
used in full effect in a capella Christmas
hymns. Midnight mass on Christmas
Eve is a not-to-be-missed experience.

New Year

The welcoming of the New Year takes
place with typical African enthusiasm,
involving street celebrations, fireworks
at midnight and parties all over town.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Liechtenstein Holidays and Festivals

Liechtenstein is home to some of Europe's most illustrious celebrations. Music plays an important role in the yearly festivals, but so does cuisine, dance and history. The nation stops for its annual Liechtenstein holiday- National Day on August 15, with plenty of festivities and fireworks throughout the land. Another energetic day is the Monster Concert, which is held in the town of Schaan.

Operettas in Vaduz/Balzers

Rotating between cities each year, the Liechtenstein Operettas is a three month opera celebration. The festivals are held either in Balzers or Vaduz and generally last from the end of January through the middle of March.

Monster Concert

Held in the town of Schaan during the month of March, the Monster Concert is one of the annual Fasching events, and has rocked since 1958. Music is played and dancing in the streets is the norm, with thousands of visitors adding to the spectacle every year.

Treisenberg Spring

Taking place over a weekend at the end of March, the Treisenberg Spring festival is a celebration of the coming warm season in Liechtenstein. Classical music is used to entertain the masses and amazing rhythms can be heard echoing throughout the township, keeping alive the golden oldies from the likes of Bach, Wendling and Telemann.

Bargar-Fruahlig-Mountain Spring

After a long winter, visitors celebrate the coming warmth at the traditional Treisenberg Spring festival in April and May. However, the event is more about cuisine than music, with local restaurants, Café Guflina and Restaurant Kainer, offering a magnificent selection of spring foods.
LGT Alpine Marathon
The annual LGT Alpine Marathon is one of the most exciting sporting events on the Liechtenstein calendar. On June 16, runners from around Europe and the UK flock to Bendern for 42 kms of excitement. Most of the course is at an altitude of about 5900 feet.

Film Festival Vaduz

For two weeks in July, Vaduz turns on the charm when it hosts its annual film festival. Flicks from around Liechtenstein, Europe, and other parts of the globe are screened, mostly in beautiful open air cinemas around the capital.

National Day of Liechtenstein

Held on August 15, National Day of Liechtenstein is celebrated across the country. Musical events, parades, dance performances, games, and traditional cuisine are the center of attention until 10:00 p.m. when fireworks light up the sky near Vaduz Castle.

Liechtenstein Guitar Days

This weeklong festival held in July, brings the best guitar players from around the country and Europe to Eschen. An international competition is what attracts the most visitors, but there are also plenty of workshops and concerts.
*culled from : www.iexplore.com

Friday, 16 December 2016

IBEJI TWIN CHILDREN (THE TWINS)

IBEJI TWIN CHILDREN

The Yoruba people of Nigeria look upon the birth of twins as a special blessing; they also have one of the highest rates of twin births in the world. Due to the high mortality rate among twins, Yoruba mothers are frequently faced with the death of a cherished child. In view of this reality, mothers often commission a carver to create a small wooden figure -Ere Ibeji – to serve as a repository for the soul of the deceased. The figures are cared for by the mother as her living children. She believes that twins have the power to bring good fortune, wealth, and blessings; hence, twin surrogate statues are treated with respect and great attention. Statues are ritually oiled and washed in special herbal baths. They are symbolically rubbed with food and occupy a special place in the household. At times of festivals, they are held by the mother and danced.

TWINS: TWO BODIES ON A SOUL

Such care may seem very strange to us from the viewpoint of another culture so further explanation is necessary. Twins are believed to share one soul. Since a surviving twin cannot live with half a soul, the statue may contain the other half soul. Moreover, the line between life and death is not absolute for the Yoruba. There is a close interplay between the world of the spirits and the material world. Spiritual forces are normally called upon to intercede for the living. The care of a twin makes great sense to the Yoruba for a twin can produce blessings; similarly, the neglect of the deceased twin may cause the living to endure its wrath. Hence, an angry deceased twin may cause illness, sterility, still-births, and various misfortunes.

WASHING, FEEDING, RUBBING

The frequent washing, feeding, and rubbing of the statues account for the worn and patined surfaces. In fact, the surface is a sign of its authenticity. Among the favorite embellishments are indigo blue, often rubbed into the coiffure. Blue is a spiritual color (consider the skies) and the head is the source of spiritual transformation. Reddish paste may be rubbed on the body both as a protection from insects and as a way to charge the figure, red being a hot color reflective of power and energy. Beads and beaded cloth may adorn an Ibeji as a sign of prestige. Metal rings and cowries are symbols of wealth.

DEATH IS NOT A BARRIER

Nevertheless, each Ibeji is personal and shows the love and attention of the caregiver, who may be a brother compassion and suffering. Imagine the mother whose child has been lost to death now once more able to hold her infant in the form of the Ibeji, able to wash and feed it, dress it and sing to it. Death is not a barrier to the Yoruba mother; her family is together because of the presence of the Ibeji child.

*culled from African Arts Museum

Thursday, 15 December 2016

SAKARA MUSIC

SAKARA DRUM 
Sakara– a mention of this genre of music,
mind goes to late
Yussuf Ọlatunji , Ẹgba indigene,
Yoruba music
 with Islamic
YUSUF OLATUNJI 
tonation. 

Although, Sakara has undergone changes by present day singers , yet its focus as praise and
adulation song still
remains.

Instruments include Goje ,
(Yoruba violin ) and Sakara drum.
Yoruba music influenced by
Islam in style , tone, message , 
its purpose is to praise, and to 
eulogize . 

Goje, a two string fiddle 
is a major instrument for 
this music, and Sakara drum, one 
of the four major family drums in 
Yoruba land. It is popular 
among Ibadan, Ẹgba and Ijẹbu .

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Udu Igba Cylinder Drum In Igboland

The drum is the most important musical instrument for us – Igbos. This instrument is extensively used during celebrations, rites of passage, funerals, war, town meetings and an array of other events.

Since this instrument is so diverse, many types of drums have been crafted and perfected over the years. The main kinds of drum used in present day Igboland are Udu and Igba.

The Udu (Pottery-drum) is a sphere shape made of clay, with a hollow inside and a small round open mouth. The primary function of Udu is to produce musical bass. The artist accomplishes this by taping the open mouth with a round and flat object.

The Udu is also used as a safe, and is the first storage container used by us – the Igbos to store water, palm oil, or to preserve produce. Due to its fragile nature, other sturdier containers like plastics had replaced it as a storage facility. It continues to serve as the best source for musical bass.

The Igba (Cylinder-drum) is a piece of hollow wood covered at one end with animal hide held down tight with fasteners. The artist carries it over his shoulder with the help of a shoulder strap. The artist produces the sound by beating on the animal hide with his fingers or combination of one set of fingers and a special stick.

The cylinder-drum accompanies dances, songs, religious and secular ceremonies, and its tunes have been known to gave special signals for good news as well as bad news.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Relevance of the Gong In Music

The Ogene (Gong) is the most important metal instrument among the Igbo people. They were made originally in bronze but, in modern time, are mainly made of common metal as a bulging surface in elliptical shaped rim, and tapering like a frustum to its handle. It is hit about its rim by a stick to produce different tunes. 
The Ogene (gong) accompanies dances, songs, religious and secular ceremonies, and its tunes have been developed to transmit messages by a sort of lyric prose.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Wonderful Oja Flute

The Oja (Flute) is a piece of wood designed with a cavity inside, the top has a wide opening to fit
the shape of the human lower lip, a small hole on the bottom and two smaller holes closer to the top on exact opposite side. The artist blows the musical sounds through the wide opening, while placing the thumb and the ring fingers simultaneously on the two smallest holes to control the rhythm. The bottom hole which is left alone at all times controls the musical rhythm out flow. It accompanies dances and songs, or played as solo.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Usefulness of Ekwe In Music


The slit drum, ekwe, as it is called in Igbo, is made from a tree trunk.
It is hollowed through its length from two cavities at its end. It also has a horizontal slit that connects the cavities. It varies in size, depending on use and importance.

The ekwe, as it is fondly called, is used in prayer houses for music. It is a simple carved wood that produces different sounds. It is also used in summoning meetings in Igboland. The sound of the ekwe early in the morning is a notice that the king wants to meet with the villagers. It could also mean announcements of a fire outbreak, theft, or other emergencies. For major events, the ekwe is a major instrument at coronations, cultural events such as new yam festivals, burials etc.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Uniqueness of Shekere

In Africa, one of the most popular instruments is the shekere. Throughout the continent it is called different things, such as the lilolo, axatse (Ghana), and chequere. It is predominantly called shekere in Nigeria. Musicians dance and sing while they shake a shekere or bang it on their knees.

The shekere is a percussion instrument made from a gourd with a beaded skirt. The instrument was originally from Africa but is now used in Afro-Caribbean, Jazz, Salsa, and other popular music.

A shekere is made by drying the gourd for several months then removing the pulp and seeds. After it is scrubbed, skillful bead work is added as well as colour.
The instrument is used for folklore as well as some of the popular music.

Considered highly personal, it is never loaned or shared, even with family members. However, a son who is a professional musician may inherit his father's shekere. Shekeres among the Yoruba of Nigeria are often connected with religion, given great respect, and play a very important role in traditional music.

When African slaves were taken to the "New World," they carried with them many of these rich musical traditions, which took root in varying degrees in different parts of the Americas and the Caribbean. In Cuba, Yoruba religious traditions using drums and shekeres are found almost completely intact – with similar rhythmic patterns, names of instruments and accompanying chants.

Brazilians sometimes use a beaded coconut called "afuxe" similar in name and style to the Ghanian shekere. In the United States the shekere and other African related instruments continue to grow in popularity and are quickly becoming part of our contemporary musical expression.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Festivals in Thailand

Many of the festivals in Thailand have a religious aspect. Some festivals take place on fixed days from year to year while others, for example those relating to Buddhism, are determined by the lunar calendar. Below is an introduction to the most significant festivals and happenings.

Buddhist Religious Festivals

Visakha Bucha: Celebrating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Gautama Buddha, this is probably the holiest day of the Buddhist calendar. It takes place during the fifteenth day of the sixth lunar month (May). During the evening there is a candlelit procession around the temples.

Asalha Puja : Commemorating Buddha's first sermon, the day is celebrated by listening to sermons and giving donations. This festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month.

Khao Phansa (Vassa) : This festival is sometimes called the Rains Retreat and is the beginning of Buddhist Lent. It starts the day after Asalha Puja. Young men will often become lay monks for a short period in order to earn merit. This period is followed by two of the major festivals in the Buddhist calendar: Wan Awk Pansa and Kathina.

Wan Awk Pansa : The last day of Buddhist Lent. Boats traditionally made of banana wood or bamboo are decorated with flowers and lamps and filled with offerings such as sticky rice sweets wrapped in banana leaves. In the evening they are launched into the water.

Kathina : A festival for lay people to express gratitude to Buddhist monks by giving them gifts such as food and flowers. The festival culminates in the Kathina Offering Ceremony at which cloth and new robes are offered to the monks. Kathina marks the end of Vassa and can take place from the waning moon of the eleventh lunar month to the start of the waxing moon of the twelfth (October or November).

Other Thai Festivals

Chinese New Year : Annual celebration of the Chinese New Year with dragon dances, firecrackers, Chinese food and processions. The celebrations take place throughout Thailand, and in Bangkok the main celebrations take place in the large Chinese communities in Yaorwarat Road.
culled from www.angloinfo.com

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Yankari Game Reserve

The Yankari National Park is the premier game reserve in Nigeria. Yankari Park and Wikki Warm Springs are located around the Gagi River, approximately 1 1/2 hours by road, southeast of Bauchi Town. The beauty and size of The Yankari Game Reserve make it the most popular reserve in Nigeria. Set up in 1956 and opened to the public in 1962, the main game-viewing areas of the reserve are open all year round. Japanese, Western Europeans, Americans and Southeast Asian tourists visit this park in abundance.
The reserve covers 2,058 sq. km. of savanna woodland and is well-stocked with elephants, baboons, waterbucks, bushbucks, oribi, crocodile, hippopotamus, roan antelope, buffalo and various types of monkeys. Lions are occasionally spotted as well, despite their natural camouflage. The best time to visit is between November and May, when tourists are likely to see more game since the dense vegetation has dried out and the animals congregate around the rivers.

The Wikki Warm Springs is one of the best features of the game reserves. Flood-lit at night, it is wonderful after a hot day's game-viewing to relax in the warm water. The spring gushes out from under a cliff, where the water is at least 6 ft. deep, with a bathing area that extends for 600 ft. to an open area. The park is inhabited by a variety of birds, including the huge saddlebill stork, golliath heron, bateleur eagle, vultures, kingflshers, bee-eaters and more. It is excellent for serious bird-watchers.
Other facilities include: Tennis courts, squash courts, a small museum in the reception area plus gas stations with convenience stores at Wikki Camp and Bauchi.

Reservations: It is advisable to make reservation during the holidays and weekends with Easter a particularly busy season. Reservations can be made at Durbar Hotel in Kaduna, Bauchi State House in Lagos and at the Zaranda Hotel in Bauchi. Or call Yankari Game Reserve at (069) 43-656.

Route: You can travel by road from Lagos to Abuja, where you make an overnight stop, then on to Jos and Bauchi, as it is a 2-day journey by car over well-maintained roads.

Hotels: Basic 



accommodations are available in chalets or rondavels. Also available are suites, double rooms and family chalets that include small kitchens. There are many other National Parks besides Yankari, as illustrated on the map. Notable ones include Mambilla, Gumti National Park, Cross River National Park, and Kainji Lake National Park.
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