Category Archives: Say what??

You know how stuff happens in real life and you have to ask yourself “Did that just happen?” This section is dedicated to those moments.

What Countries Would You Like the Jollof Book Tour to Visit?

Corn cobs


Super glue

No, these are not the ingredients for an abstract art project. These are just a few of the visual props used in Nnenna Marcia’s hilarious, disturbing and erotically bent book of short stories titled “West Africa Hot”. (If you haven’t picked it up yet because you’ve never heard of it, Google dey.)

And as some of you know, I dabble in romance (and occasionally, comedy)  as well so, Nnenna and I have decided it would be a capital idea to take this show on the road! But we need your help, Planeteers. Like Dora the Explorer, we’ll need a Map. Will you be our Map? It’s really simple. Just complete this poll and tell us WHERE in the world this duo should go on the Jollof Book Tour!

Now, you’re probably wondering “What in Heaven’s name is a Jollof Book Tour?” Well, given that Nnenna Marcia is Nigerian and I’m a hybrid Ghanaian and both of our countries are perpetually locked in a battle over whose jollof reigns supreme, we’ve decided to put our culinary differences aside for the purpose of solidarity. Jollof represents the best of  west Africa. The book tour features some of the best writers from west Africa. And if you boil jollof, they will come. You gerrit? Of course you do.


Now that you’ve voted, don’t keep this to yourself. Tell your friends, pets, and cohorts to cast their votes too!

Until the lion learns to write, the tale of the hunt will glorify the hunter.

Note: The article that spawned this rejoinder originally appeared in the Independent, a British online publication. I was content to give the content a pass and chalk it up to White People Whiting. After all, the piece was written right on schedule. Every quarter, we Africans are subjected to a written work that describes us in the least flattering of terms. This time, Victoria Stewart repeated (and printed!) claims that Ghanaians don’t know what rolling pins are.

Well, my e-friend Kuorkor said she was having none of it. She teamed up with a colleague and friend to craft this response; and per her request, I’m sharing it. Feel free to share it on your blog as well. Take back your news, dear brothers and sisters. Take back your news!


By Kofi Amoo-Gottfried

The stories we tell about ourselves are who we are. Storytelling shapes our past, present and future – and in this way, stories are an incredibly powerful medium. With great power comes great responsibility. A responsibility that’s not always respected when non-Africans tell stories about Africa.

This article is a case in point:


There’s so much wrong with this article, it’s hard to know where to start. There are two intertwined notions at the heart of the author’s point of view – the first is that Ghanaians don’t appreciate Art, and the second is that Expats are driving an elevation in art culture, a renaissance in art appreciation, and showing Ghanaians “how its done”. Both notions are deeply flawed at best; and paternalistic, offensive and racist at worst.

Let’s take them in turn, shall we?

Ghanaians don’t appreciate art

I suppose it depends how you define “Art”, but in Ghana, where art is culture, this notion is plain wrong. Art is, and has always been, part of the fabric of Ghanaian life and culture. All you have to do is explore.

Explore the masterpieces created by the Kente weavers; bright and bursting with color – each pattern holding a deeper meaning.

Lose yourself in the beauty, depth, and complexity of Adinkra iconography and mythology – an art form that dates back to 1817 and which was designed to support “the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief” in pre-literate times.
Art was, and is, literally language.
Art was, and is, literally culture.

Marvel at the intricacy, infinite styles, cuts, and colors in Ghanaian wax prints – and at the thriving fashion industry and globally renowned fashion designers (Tetteh Plahar, Kwadwo Bediako, Kofi Ansah, Christie Brown etc.) these prints and designs have inspired.

Listen to the original masters who created hi-life music – the art form which turned an obscure Ghanaian band named Osibisa into a global icon. Then listen to the new masters, who remixed that art form and gave us hip-life and Afrobeats – Reggie Rockstone, Obrafuor, Sarkodie, M.anifest and so many more.

Even in death, we have art. Marvelous fantasy coffins, designed to bring the deceased into the afterlife with pomp and circumstance – designed by artisans like Seth Kane Kwei, his grandson Eric Adjetey-Anang, and many others.

Our relationship with art goes beyond mere “appreciation”.
Art defines us.

Expats are driving an Art Renaissance

Oh, hello there, “white savior complex”… I was wondering where you’d gone.

Beyond the obvious problems with someone turning up in your country to tell you what “Art” is, and that you’ve been doing it wrong, let’s give credit where credit is due. Today’s vibrant indigenous art scene is simply the latest manifestation of a proud culture of creativity, and its being driven by people like:

Mantse Aryeequaye and Sionne Neely; who helped create and launch the Chale Wote Street Art Festival. Now in its fifth year, Chale Wote is an alternative platform that brings art, music, dance and performance out into the streets. Chale Wote is a smash hit, attracting over 20,000 attendees this year, and the festival has been extensively covered by local and international media. Google it.

Bibie Brew; who created New Morning Creative Arts Café as a space for artists to interact and collaborate. Over the years, the Café has become the defacto grooming space for young vocal and theatrical artists – ask any legitimate performance artist; and they’ll tell you they’ve participated in an event at the Café.

Attukwei Clottey; whose Afrogallonism art – using recycled oil jerry cans to create pieces and installations that comment on society – creates employment for people in his local community of La. His local performance collective Golokal are also making a name for themselves by working on a number of film projects in Accra.

Nana Kofi Acquah, an internationally published and sought-after photographer, who by beautifully chronicling Ghanaian life and blending it with powerful social commentary has demonstrated how photography can be a career choice, and has inspired a new generation of photographers.

Creo Art, a team of designers and animators, and The Black Narrator, a satirical cartoonist, have huge followings and use the power of social media, illustration and animation to comment on, celebrate, and critique the Ghanaian condition.

These are just a sampling of the new generation of Ghanaian artists continuing a proud tradition – I could go on and on, but why belabor the point? This generation creates in their own mold, on their own terms. Their art is not meant to be inscrutable, but rather a public engagement which involves their communities, and often the participation and support of their peers. This is art for our people – not about a foreign audience or foreign acceptance, but for local utility and local relevance.

Someone once said, “Until lions learn to write, the tale of the hunt will be always glorify the hunter”. Which is how what should have been a perfectly routine story about stylish new Western-style restaurants, spaces and events catering to tourists, expats, and upper-crust Ghanaians turned into a commentary on the state of art in Ghana and what expats are doing to save it.

And oh, by the way, that “grilled fermented corn wrapped up in corn leaves”? It’s actually boiled, and it’s called “kenkey”, not “keku”.

If you’re going to tell our story, tell it right.

Why Are So Many African Artists Such Willing Participants in Their Own Degradation?

mammyOn Feb. 29, 1940, Hattie McDaniel took a long, solitary walk from a segregated table in the back of the Coconut Grove Hotel to accept her Oscar award for the Best Supporting Actress category for her role as Mammy in ‘Gone With the Wind’. She was the first Black actor in history to receive the prestigious award. The fact that she was allowed in the hotel in a capacity other than as a Black woman in service was a triumph and a feat that required no small effort, as Coconut Grove, like every establishment that catered to white clientele around the country had a strict ‘No Blacks Allowed’ policy. Although these establishments had no qualms with Black performers coming in to entertain their white guests, they were required to enter in through back entrances of said establishments, never permitted to stay on the premises as guests, and certainly were not allowed to use any of the facilities like the bar or lounges. Nevertheless, these Black performers were at least given the courtesy of having their faces and voices seen/heard on TV or radio broadcasts as they executed their craft from time-to-time.

In time, one of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement would be the end of segregation, allowing these artists freer access to private establishments and all their comforts.

Ironically, 51 years after the end of segregation in America, African artists are being shown the backdoor to receive recognition for their creativity and craft by Black Entertainment Television (BET); and what’s worse, these same artists are glibly gliding through the proverbial kitchen and galley for the benefit of a pat on the head from the guardians of this media outlet. This is not hyperbole or exaggeration: Every year, ever since the inception of the Best International Act: Africa category, African artists receive their BET Awards off stage, off camera, many hours before the larger televised ceremony. At least white folks let Hattie on TV to give her acceptance speech. BET hides the African element from the viewing public like it’s a bad rash. Many have drawn parallels between the treatment that African artists receive from BET and the Black American community at large and that which Black people themselves once received from openly racist white American society.

If you are one of the many Americans who was not even aware that there was an African Artist category on the BET Awards, don’t fret. You are not at fault. It’s not well publicized in the least. The speculation for the secrecy is varied, but at the core, most people agree that it is because Black Americans – or at least those who consume the entertainment fare that BET offers – are ashamed of Africans.

I find this peculiar, especially since so much of what Black Americans enjoy and boast of culturally and musically has its roots in Africa. To that end, (Black) American entertainers have no misgivings about co-opting African styles and melody for their own career advancement… just reservations about showcasing it on television or radio.For example, the bassline for ODB’s ‘Ghetto Superstar’ mirror’s Brenda Fassie’s ‘Vulindlela’ note for bloody note. In addition to that, the entire genre that BET is built on – hip hop – owes a nod of gratitude to Africa as well. Simigwahene Gyedu Blay Ambolley has long asserted that he is the originator of rap and not the Sugarhill Gang who have been crowned with that honor.

“I am [the originator of rap] in the whole world not only Ghana. [But] if you go into the Guinness book of records they said that the Sugarhill Gang originated rap, and if you check the date, their date was around ‘78, ‘79.”

Ambolley first began performing and distributing rap commercially in 1973.

From fashion to music, Black Americans have long drawn inspiration from Africa. This is not to deny that there hasn’t been a trend in the reverse, especially recently, but the flow of cultural exchange has been trended heavily with Africa providing the influences. Lest we forget, the entire thrilling sequence to Beyonce’s “Who Run the World” video was choreographed by and originated with  lesser known Mozambican dance troupe, Tofo Tofo.

In light of this open secret, it can’t be denied that BET’s treatment of African artists is nothing short of appalling. Several artists have made their feelings known in the issue, including Fuse ODG and Whizkid, both of whom were nominated to receive awards, but who, to their credit, refused the second class treatment they were offered.

As usual, there will always be apologists for the poor treatment of Africans and as usual, they exist in blackface. One of such purveyors of this rubbish mentality is the disgraced, former “ace” broadcaster, KKD, who had this to say:

kkd nya

This is crap, because as anyone who follows pop cultural trends knows, the people don’t get to decide what they like: they have their appetites decided for them. From as far back as the Ed Sullivan show, entertainment moguls have long made it a point to individually bring ‘new and exciting’ acts to the viewing (and paying) public and thus direct their enthusiasms and tastes. That was how America was introduced to The Beatles, Ike & Tina and Nat King Cole. The public didn’t decide to make them stars: the industry did. If BET was really avant-garde and in the business of innovation, they would jump at the opportunity to introduce new acts to a hungry public in search of the next big thing. The BET Awards were established in 2001, and in that time, I have never heard of any other minority or ‘fringe’ group – be they from the Caribbean Dancehall cadre or cello-playing Esperanza Spalding – having to receive their recognition off camera just after breakfast or play to an empty auditorium because the ‘American public isn’t used to it’. You mean the kid in the hood can dig an American chick playing strings on a wooden box, but not an African guy rapping flawless in English? Which is supposedly more familiar to him?

What a stupid excuse. The American public wasn’t used to the Moonwalk either, but when MJ debuted it on Motown 25, it was one of the greatest moments in television history. How many possible great TV moments have been passed up while Stonebwoy, Sarkodie and Tiwa Savage have been grinnin’ n’ gigglin’ like grateful (segregated) African urchins backstage year after year?

That’s the point: these artists are not just some of Africa’s finest, but the finest musicians, lyricists and performers in the world today. They do not deserve this type of treatment, and they certainly shouldn’t be facilitating in their own dishonor. So that what? So that people who don’t see them as equals may (hopefully) come to recognize them as such? That they will in time get a “well done, thy good and faithful R&B songstress” from the likes of Diddy? This was the same mistake that African/Black Americans made with they traded the scraps of white mainstream integration for glory of economic independence and self-determination.

Do you remember Tiwa's performance at the BET Awards? No? That's because it was PRE-concert!

Do you remember Tiwa’s performance at the BET Awards? No? That’s because it was PRE-concert!

I hope that next year no African artist will voluntarily debase themselves by paying for their own airfare and lodging to go and pick up an award from a ratchet organization that is as invested in collective Black advancement as presidential candidate Donald Trump is today. BET is owned by Viacom, not your brother. Trust me when I say Viacom don’t give a rats a** about putting your Ghanaian one “on the map”.


We better recognize.

Do you think it’s a good idea for African artists to participate in awards shows that treat them like second class citizens? Are the possible long term benefits worth this disgrace? Why/why not? Discuss! ↓

How Is There Discrimination in The Natural Hair Community?!?

I’m not here with questions today, M.O.M. Squad. Questions that I hope you will help me find the answers to.

When it comes to trends in pop culture and social events, I am usually the last person to find out. Mommy and parenting business though? Pshaw! I’m all over that. If there is a cartoon or a sippy cup involved, I know where it’s at, where it’s gonna be and how it’s going down. Grown folks business? Not so much. That can be the only explanation for the total mortification I experienced when I discovered that there is an anti-4C bias in the natural hair community. I have been out of the loop for waaaay too long.

If this post sounds like total nonsense to anyone outside of the Black-o-sphere and Natural Hair Movement, don’t worry. Your hearing is not flawed. It IS nonsense. Nevertheless, I think we must discuss this because I just don’t understand how/where/why it was allowed to happen!

A few weeks ago, a new acquaintance invited me to a hair show in Atlanta. I assumed she was referring to Taliah Waajid’s World Natural Health & Beauty Show, which I attend faithfully annually.

“No, this is a new show by 4C Hair Chicks. It’s the weekend before Taliah’s,” my acquaintance said. “I’m one of the volunteers. Are you on Instagram? It’s called Kinky Hair Unlocked. Here’s their page.”

I clicked on this link  and was pleasantly surprised. It’s always nice to have options when it comes to hair care and events. I thanked her and went home to study the event in more detail.

The Kinky Hair Unlocked (KHU) event differs from Taliah Waajid’s (TW) in two very distinct ways. First, KHU is purely focused on hair education, set in a series of seminars for one evening. TW is completely consumer driven and is more like a market with lots of different vendors. While KHU says there will be some products for sale, selling hair potions and accessories is not their primary aim. Their primary aim is to educate women who have rejected the use of chemical relaxers in their hair. Second is the price point. The entry fee to Taliah Waajid’s even is $10. The price of general admission to Kinky Hair Unlocked will leave your pockets $45 lighter.

Each show has its merits and serves consumers with particular needs; but I have to confess I was troubled by the impetus for the KHU show, whose mission reads (in part) as follows:

Kinky Hair Unlocked is the solution for women with kinkier textures who have felt left out of the natural hair community when it comes to product development, imagery and education on how to care for their unique textures. It is a one-of-a-kind hair care symposium geared toward educating women on how to achieve maximum length and healthy hair from their scalp to their ends.

Hiehn? Warrenthis? Why would women who have kinkier textures feel “left out of the community”? I mean, isn’t the entire community made up of people with “kinky” hair anyway? The mission statement opened my eyes to certain trends I had ignored – or had been blind to, honestly – for a long time. Suddenly, I was seeing rejection of 4C hair everywhere.

Ms Jessies

Here is a visually aid of human hair types to help as we discuss this type of discrimination and the struggle.

hair chart

People of European/Asian ancestry typically have hair types 1 & 2. Middle Eastern hair is typically between a 2 & 3. Folks of African descent usually fall somewhere between a 3 & 4. Then of course there are mixed race people who can experience all 4 hair types all at once. Now that we are all on one accord, let’s continue!

Someone posted this video on my friend’s wall without comment. I snickered when I watched it and kept my cynical feelings bottled up. Of course the dude didn’t have a problem with her hair. It’s gorgeous anyway! It turns out I was not alone in cynicism.

Of course, she was right. If Gugu (the actress in this film), had woken up with a flat-on-one-side afro and an endless patch of impenetrable naps, there would be nothing to consider “sexy” about her natural hair. In truth, it’s been widely accepted – or perceived – that 4C hair is not sexy unless it has been oiled, coiled and tamed to look like 2A hair. This is just wrong! How did this happen?

I went to Twitter to investigate. Black Twirra is like a well. It’s where people come to vomit all their painful truths and where the world can draw knowledge from. Here’s a sampling of what I found.



Again, how did this happen? Could it be that even in our “natural hair pride”, too many of us still harbor European standards for beauty? Like, you can be Black, but not THAT Black. Like no, really. Your frizzy hair is holding the race back. Can’t you do something about that? That doesn’t look “natural” enough. You know what? Maybe you’re one of the ones who should be getting a perm… or some locks. Put that 4C away in some locks and then it will look respectable. Because apparently, this is the WORST thing that could happen to a sistah:

4c descrimination


Seriously, how did we allow discrimination against a certain type of natural hair become an actual “thing”? Jesus be a hot oil treatment and fix this!


F & W Style: Handbags for Happiness

Did you know that today was the International Day of Happiness? No really. It’s an actual, real thing. Here is a blurb on on why the day was created and sanctioned:

After years of happiness research, one thing has proved fundamental – the importance of our connections with other people.

But modern societies are built as if the opposite was true. We are surrounded by people, yet we feel genuinely connected to almost none of them. The effects are devastating. 

Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking; and the epidemic of loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.

We could change this in a day if we all reached out and made at least one positive connection. For the International Day of Happiness, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

I took this mandate very seriously, and as my contribution to International Happiness Day, I went out into my community and spent some money. Eh heh! What greater connection can a woman have than with a designer/retailer who makes her spirit come alive? And are designers/retailers not also happy when they have parted us from our money? Everyone has a part to play in this cycle of joy!

No, but seriously MOM Squad: you all know I have been on the hunt for Black Luxury ever since I told you about that article expressing mainstream disgust for Black dollars, and I am happy to report I have found it. As of 10:43 this morning, I became an F &W Girl, thanks to the design and business prowess of Alexandria Alli manager and head of creative concepts at F & W Style. The story behind her brand has been featured in this month’s edition of Jezebel Magazine, as well as on Black Enterprise and other publications you can look up at your leisure. They will tell you all the stuff that comes as part and parcel of a polite and proper interview. Me, I went to her shop for gossip.

photo 3(1)Alexandria Alli is tall with a tiny waist and stunning with a perfect complexion. Pimples daren’t approach her skin. Her lipstick doesn’t smudge when she talks. Her body is one fluid masterpiece and all its pieces work in tandem. Today she was wearing a figure flattering green and bronze asoke blouse and skirt ensemble. If I was going to buy a luxury handbag from anyone, it was going to be this Nigerian goddess today! She greeted me warmly and invited me into her studio. I was immediately impressed by how clean it was design and décor wise. The simplicity and boldness she surrounds herself with in her environment translates to the way in which she designs her bag.

After our pleasantries were exchanged, I told her without mincing words why I had come to seek her out.

“Someone actually put that on a blog? For the whole world to see?”

“Yes! And no one on their editing team thought it might be a good idea to take it down!”

“Wow,” she said pensively, “that’s really sad.”

(In hindsight, I’m glad that they didn’t. I might never have discovered F & W if I had remained in my pop culture stupor. )

I took a quick scan around the back office we were meeting in and took note of several of the bags I’d seen online. My eye went immediately to the red Chloe bag, since red is my favorite color. At Alexandria’s subtle urging, I turned my attention over to the croc embossed bags to the left. I asked her about where she gets her leather and inspiration from.

photo 4

“This is Italian leather,” she replied. “As far as the type of leather we choose, that’s all because of our customers. They indicated that they like pebble grain and crocodile, so you will notice that all of the bags have that sort of embellishment. It just gives them something special, and gives it a more luxurious look.”

I ran my finger over the details of the burnt orange croc embossed bag I was holding and had to agree with her.

“As far as inspiration, I look to women,” she continued. “I spend a lot of time just observing women…how they move and interact with their accessories…and I then I try to imagine what they might like that is functional while still having an element of luxury.”

We then went on to discuss color and how she chooses her leather. Alexandria’s favorite color is pink.



A strong Nigerian woman should like gold or midnight blue…warris pink? She laughed.

“Not just any pink…strong pink. And besides, pink is a very happy color, I think!”

photo 2(3)

Alexandria opened up the purse I had been looking at and drew my attention to the lining. Every F&W bag is lined with the same hot pink in its interior. This distinguishes it from other luxury bags and serves as her stamp.

“And it was a compromise for me, since I couldn’t make every single bag I designed pink.”

“How does your mother feel about your success?” I asked. I am always impressed when Africans of a certain age pursue a career in the fine, literary and/or digital arts and are successful at it. Such careers do not come without some opposition from our parents. Of course, Alexandria’s mother – being a designer herself – is very proud. “Did you go to school for design?”

“No. Actually I was modeling in school.”

“Heh? Wait! Your mother – your Nigerian mother – allowed you to go to modeling school?”

“No! I went to school to study management,” she replied, “but my mother allowed me to model so long as it didn’t interfere with my work. She’s just really happy to see us doing well, you know? Parents love to see their kids succeeding…”

“…even when it’s not the ideal career that they would have mapped out for them. But when the success comes?”

“Oh! Then suddenly, all of this was their idea!”

We cackled for a bit about Chimamanda, Wale, African norms, husbands and children and making it all work. Alexandria mused about how her husband was the one who really pushed her to start her own luxury brand. She gave me a look that told me she thought he was crazy at the time.

“Who does that?” she asked. “But he really encouraged me and we’ve been in business for 5 years. This year, it’s really taken off!”

She did a swoop motion with her hand, like a rocket taking off. I was compelled to smile. Her enthusiasm was infectious and her humility refreshing.

photo 4(1)Now that I had everything I needed, I bade her goodbye and thanked her sincerely. I don’t know if she or her husband know what they have done for (newly) conscious consumers like me by giving us a choice. I am particularly grateful that she views her luxury brand as something that all women – no matter what their social strata or racial makeup – should have access to and enjoy.

This won’t be my last bag from F&W Style.





Visit to find a list of stores that carry the brand in your area or to shop online. 

Lazy Intellectual African Scum Revisited

In 2012 I received an email from a good friend and mentor that completely blew me away. Those were the days when I was not averse to opening and reading chain/bulk emails, now a relic of the Internet’s past. The article was so biting, poignant and graceful in its delivery that I was compelled to copy and paste it without further addendum or comment on my blog. This was the sort of thing each reader needed to ingest and decode for his/herself.

I titled the article “You Lazy Intellectual (African) Scum” in absence of an original title. (I later learned it was originally entitled ‘Zambian Intellectuals are Lazy’, which is a much nicer moniker than the one I assigned the piece!)

Field Ruwe is the author of that piece that went viral within days. I suspect it was also shared widely within email circles as well, but once the blogging and online publication communities got a hold of it, it spread with ferocity. The article was liked, shared, reblogged and commented on thousands of times. EVERYONE was talking about Walter, the article’s protagonist, encounter with whom we assume is Field –or at least someone very much like him. Walter speaks the words that most Africans are too afraid to acknowledge in their hearts: that we are willfully submitting to being taken advantage of. Worse, he is unapologetic in his tone, as if seeking to give offense.

“I spent three years in Zambia in the 1980s,” he continued. “I wined and dined with Luke Mwananshiku, Willa Mungomba, Dr. Siteke Mwale, and many other highly intelligent Zambians.” He lowered his voice. “I was part of the IMF group that came to rip you guys off.” He smirked. “Your government put me in a million dollar mansion overlooking a shanty called Kalingalinga. From my patio I saw it all—the rich and the poor, the ailing, the dead, and the healthy.”

The sentiments in the piece were not universally received with happiness. There were several rebuttal pieces written, decrying Field’s supposed resolution that this is the way things “ought to be”, and for his not using his time to build Africans up, rather than tearing them down. Some folks were flat out offended. Others still saw the piece as spot on, and took it as a challenge to change the status quo. Others still were inspired to turn the piece into film, and for months there was talk about how/when that might happen. And then the chatter died down and as we humans do, we forget and move on.

Or so we assume.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Field had collaborated with a young Kenyan filmmaker to bring this stunning think piece to life on the small screen. ‘Intellectual Scum’ will make its debut this Spring, and from the looks of the trailer, it adheres the same standard of excellent story telling as the original written piece.


Njue Kevin, the film’s director will join me in a conversation about the creative aspects of the film, and will talk about how Field’s article impacted him. I hope you will be able to join us on Thursday February 26th at 11am EST/4 pm GMT on Google Hangouts (Link to join: Kevin and I want to hear from you too! Submit your questions and comments using the G+ Q&A feature and follow the conversation on Twitter using the HT #IntellectualScum.

You can see the film’s trailer here:

Day 5: What It’s Like to Read an Uncle Remus Book for the First Time

Hidy and Happy Friday, Folks!

I don’t know if vlogging counts towards my posting goal, but that’s what’s going down today. On this Frivolous Friday, I have the distinct honor of reading from a beloved children’s book, Uncle Remus: His songs and stories.

Most people over the age of 30 have heard of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, and all the other Brer Rabbit tales. Uncle Remus is a fictional character who embodies the souls of three people; Uncle George Terrell, Old Harbert, and Aunt Crissy, who told stories and myths when they all lived on the plantation where the author of the book, Joel C. Harris was working at the time. He re-told their stories and sold them to publications all over the country.

It was really uncomfortable to read the stories at first, and there was definitely an overwhelming feeling of “WTH did I just read?!?” when I parted the first few pages of the book, but it gives a valuable look back at what plantation life was like in those days. African-Americans have always used stories, tall tales, songs and humor to get us through the dark times, and these stories are a nod to that reality. Furthermore, it gives one a glimpse at what Negro dialect sounded like in those days. Of course, I sound like a blithering idiot trying to make sense of the vernacular, but it definitely imparts a sense of respect to the unsuspecting reader. After all, it’s not like Negros were handed a Rosetta Stone and given diction classes on how to properly enunciate or communicate using proper verb tense agreement. Quite the opposite, in fact. Sounding too “educated” could get you killed. Our fore-bearers did the best they could, repeating words as they thought they heard them.

Enough of my prattle! Watch what it’s like to read an Uncle Remus book for the first time.

If you ever want to borrow the book to read out loud, give me a holler. It would make for a great evening with friends.

*This post is the 5th in the seven day long #YourTurnChallenge series.