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Showing posts from January, 2015

Personal Style: Pompom-Headed

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Photography: Snowing

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- Jane


Poetry: Nigerian Pastoral by Inua Ellams

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Nigerian Pastoral
After Gregory Djanikian.

If Adamu were leaning against a wall
mouth flush with fresh coconut
when trucks screeched to a halt

and Adewunmi were writing her name
in sand, dragging the small stick
when the magazine clicked

and Afoaka were hushing her twins
waving the straw fan back and forth
when the first shots rang out

if Aliyu barefoot by the oranges
were squeezing each fruit for ripeness
when the bullet shattered his cheek

if Akarachi refusing to run
were praying in his room
when the rocket struck the roof

and Azuba in her new hand-stitched hijab
were tucking away stray wisps
when the blast ate her skin

How long would it have to go on then
beginning with A and spilling over
into all the alphabets

before mother sister father child
could bear the same weight
in any faith, in any race,

be mourned with the same tongue.

-Inua Ellams
via Okayafrica

Meet Esi of Akatasia

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Jane: A little about yourself

Esi: My name is Henrietta-Esi and I am the founder and curator of Akatasia.com. I was born and raised in the south east of England to Ghanaian parents. I am a mum and a full time web developer.

J: When and why did you start your website?

E: I started akatasia.com at the end of 2012. As a product of the diaspora, it was initially a way for me to document and get reacquainted with my culture through creative arts (a personal passion of mine). The site has since grown to become a hub for readers to discover interesting talent from Africans all over the word.

J: Why the name Akatasia?

E: Akatasia means lady in Twi (Akan) which pertained to me and is the main premise for what I tend to focus the posts on. I like to showcase female creatives from Africa and the diaspora, as well as men and non africans that embark on creative projects that help to put African culture in a positive light.


J: What motivates you to keep Aketesia going?

E: My motivation stems from…

Opinion: Stop and Taste the Tea

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From a tea shop I once worked at, I picked up the habit of mixing teas.  I love the preparation as much as the surprise of the first taste. When it is good I feel clever and when it is bad I say oh well. To celebrate, review, contemplate, and define 2014 I wanted a drink to sip along.  I found a promising bag in a favorite shop and the price lit me up.  It was an 8 ounce bag of organic earl grey black tea . I brought it home in a hurry and brought the water to boil. The taste is rich, but not overwhelming——the bergamot is prominent. I enjoyed it with my thoughts on the old year and found it to be also very good at waking one's energy.

Before the black tea, my daily go to was my jasmine green tea. A couple of mornings ago as I was about to make a cup, I thought it could be clever to blend the green and the black teas for a new taste.  It was not until the next day that I realized I did not know the taste of my new blend. I tried again, but  having developed a habit of drinking my …

Personal Style: Textures And Stripes

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Music: Benjamin Clementine - Condolence

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The last page of My Ántoniawas turned on Sunday. I am now between the pages of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  I hoped to share some thoughts on the novel here today but run out of time to do a good job of it.  Instead, I am sharing my new favorite singer and song with you.

My cousin referred me to Benjamin Clementine's "Cornerstone," late last year. I loved his deep confiding voice, the minimal use of instruments, and the refreshing poetic lyrics. I meant to find him again as I was then in the middle of things. I forgot. A few days ago, my wonderful Parisian client turned friend mentioned him, and in the middle of crocheting orders I tuned in and got hooked fast; especially to "Condolence." His voice is soulful, encouraging, understanding, borderline melancholia, and the lyrics very insightful and beautiful.


Lyrics
I swear that you've seen me Yes you've seen me here before Before And so don't tell it Don't tell it otherwise This voice This …

Poetry: Meru by William Butler Yeats

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Meru

Civilisation is hooped together, brought
Under a rule, under the semblance of peace
By manifold illusion; but man’s life is thought,
And he, despite his terror, cannot cease
Ravening through century after century,
Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come
Into the desolation of reality:
Egypt and Greece, good-bye, and good-bye, Rome!
Hermits upon Mount Meru or Everest,
Caverned in night under the drifted snow,
Or where that snow and winter’s dreadful blast
Beat down upon their naked bodies, know
That day bring round the night, that before dawn
His glory and his monuments are gone.

William Butler Yeats

A Fashionable Tale: The Akili Shift Dress

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One day summer will come. In the meantime your Akili Shift Dress by NeoBantu will rock on wonderfully should you choose to pair it with tights or a pair of skinny jeans. Layered with that chunky cardigan of yours, your gorgeous winter coat, and favorite winter shoes. Now, a hat or headband? Take your time to decide. But the dress is not yours yet.  However, it is on a wicked sale.  I almost fell off my chair when I saw the price. Go and see for yourself.  Happy shopping my friend.  Happy shopping. - Jane

Opinion: Becoming Black

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In places where the majority is either a little lighter, darker, or share the same color as you, no one calls you "color." You are often something else: Akan, Ga-Adangbe, Ewe, Hausa, etc.  Growing up I was a silly child and my friends knew me as such.  My brothers still tell stories of how I would bite anyone who pissed me off.  My Nana and her friends called me Akwɛ (monkey).  It was a compliment and I loved it; I still do.  When I went to school I used to run with the boys and fight with them, too. Then one day I became the girl who spoke funny, walked funny, and read too much.  I was fitted with glasses and became Four Eyes.  In boarding school I was Jane Strange, then Animal Dancer.  I had never been black, i.e a color.  I have always been  phases or versions of myself.

They say —subtly or not, in books, on the TV, in music, on the radio, on the streets, in looks, and body languages—that black people (those outside the African continent, but in particular, African …

Personal Style: Head Scarfing Winter

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Between the Pages of Willa Cather's My Ántonia

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A good place to find oneself on cold winter days is within the pages of a favorite book. In college, a good professor introduced my class to a list of wonderful novels, of which some are now favorites of mine. My Ántonia is one of them. The holidays being over and a new year now in full swing, I wanted for reading something that celebrated life: the adventures of surviving and finding joy within its intricacies. The substance that is consciousness of being, derived from feeling, sensing, doing, dancing, being enveloped in pain and disappointments and in happiness, too. Finding relief and moments of escape in things that though we like to refer to as "the simple things in life," are often of complex and awe inspiring natures when given due attention.

On several occasions, I have found the introductions to novels a turn off——best read after one's completion of the book. They tend to give too much away and annoyingly tell one what to think.  So I approached Stephanie Vaugh…

Poetry: The Maltreatment of Meaning by Hiromi Ito

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The Maltreatment of Meaning
by Hiromi Ito | Translated by Jeffrey Angles

Can you speak Japanese?
No, I cannot speak
Yes, I can speak
Yes, I can speak but cannot read
Yes, I can speak and read but cannot write
Yes, I can speak and write but cannot understand
I was a good child
You were a good child
We were good children
That is good
I was a bad child
You were a bad child
We were bad children
That is bad
To learn a language you must replace and repeat
I was an ugly child
You were an ugly child
We were ugly children
That is ugly
I am bored
You are bored
We are bored
That is boring
I am hateful
You are hateful
We are hateful
That is hatred
I will eat
You will eat
We will eat
That is a good appetite
I won’t eat
You won’t eat
We won’t eat
That is a bad appetite
I will make meaning
You will make meaning
We will make meaning
That is conveying language
I will use Japanese
You will use Japanese
We will use Japanese
That is Japanese
I want to rip off meaning
You want to rip off meaning
We want …

Hello 2015

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My new neighbor came into the new year with a wonderful house party. There was much dancing above me when I crawled into bed a little before 2am. I closed my eyes and listened to the tap-tap of shoes beating down on wooden floors to very loud Russian music. As their joyous words travelled down, I wondered what they meant and with what expressions they were said. With these thoughts I drifted off to sleep.  My NYE was quite.  I did some cleaning, some reading, and some vigorous dancing in the morning. I hope you said goodbye to 2014 in your own wonderful way. I hope your 2015 will be so good, you will just not know how to not be grateful for being so lucky. When I wished my good friend a happy new year, she said, "These years keep getting better, eh? It's the wisdom of learning to love ourselves a little more each year." I think she is very right.

I have a few resolutions for myself, but what about this blog? I will be making a few changes. I am going to be more mindful …