I heard the words: “Welcome….Home….Brother” and felt an emotional tug on my heart strings but as I took another step and emerged into the cool crisp night air of Accra, Ghana West Africa the number of people greeting friends and family was astonishing; raised hands and joyous song filled the air. Black people were everywhere and I could see cars lining the airport’s driveway, men sat on the fenders of their cars and motioned to someone in the crowd. Suddenly there 5 or 6 pair of hands reaching for my luggage while asking if I needed a taxi? 5 pair of hands on 2 suitcases and each person expecting a tip once we reached the taxi! Kotoka Airport is located on a slight elevation and so as we drove away from the airport amiss the twinkling lights of the city I said to myself—WOW we have returned Home. We stayed at the Shangi- La hotel and that’s where I first met Kofi who has been my friend, grandson, and business partner for more than 32 years now, Kofi was the hotel’s doorman. Of course I had done my research before leaving the States and kept reading about a Makola Market which was listed as the largest outdoor market in Accra. So that morning after breakfast Kofi arranged for us to be taken to this place. Makola Market is in the downtown area not too far from the central transportation hub, I remember looking over towards that area and seeing what looked to number in the hundreds of mini vans with people moving towards one van or another. They were designed to seat 10-12 people but I’ve been a rider in many that had at least 20 passengers inside. During that first visit I hired a driver to take us about. Upon entering the marketplace I stopped in my shoes because of the overwhelming emotions racing through my mind: So many black faces and all speaking a strange language! I felt shock, awe and something else? I felt fear. But why? I soon realized that my western filters were in operation; black Americans are raised in a culture that deciphers a crowd of black people in a somewhat impoverished environment as equaling danger. Wow. Brainwashed! These folks could care less about us standing there because they were busy trying to earn a living. There was nothing to be afraid of at all.
Yes we are African-Americans. But take a close look at the tag: 2 connections, African and American. On the American side our forefathers (Ancestors) earned for us American citizenship through their pain and paid for it with their blood, sweat and tears! We know a lot about America but what do we know of Africa? I have traveled from East to West Africa and through South Africa and have met and became business partners and friends with many Africans and ALL of them can tell you from which tribe they are from. They know their ancestry. We, however, are often referred to by my African friends as the LOST Tribe because it is only a few of us who can definitely say from which tribe we came.
So why is it important to have 1 piece of African art or artifact in your home?
A single piece of African art or an artifact in the home reminds us of the sacrifices of our ancestors who in making that journey across the ocean put us on the pathway that we trod today. My mom left me a treasure trove of photographs; black and white and dimmed by age. The oldest had an 1875 date on the backs of them – only 10 years after the Civil War ended and Black Americans gained there freedom?
I looked at her mother, my grandmother and her mother and father, my great and great-great ancestors and wondered what hopes and dreams that held for their future generations understanding the dismal conditions that they faced in their lives during those times?
So something from African displayed in your home signifies pride on your African heritage and also gives due honor and respect to your ancestors who could only dream!
The types of African art and ideas of how to arrange them to fit into your home décor or can be found on the Web or simply take a look at the Home Décor Ideas on our website: www.smallworldafricanart.com.
Silk Tread Art.
This week I would like to introduce you to one of my favorites: Silk Thread Mosaics which was the first art item that caught my attention. Outstanding! Made from silk thread and painstakingly placed on a backing and glued in place strand by strand; I at first just knew that it was machine made. No, its all hand made in one of the distant villages. Each village may specialize in making a particular artifact, one will make masks that reflect their tribal heritage while another will make silk thread art. Masks made in Ghana reflect that culture and have meaning to the trained eye. We at Small World African Art know the origin and cultural purpose of every item in our shop! Ain’t that Amazing? But I do rely on my network of contacts in each country to tell me what I want to know. Originally Silk Thread Art was made by villagers as a gift for the village chief and no one else. Scenes are mainly taken from village life but I started sending pictures that I wanted to have translated into this fabulous technique. The finished piece was a representation of my granddaughter. Pretty much any image can be converted as my partner – Kofi- has the very best skilled workers in this field. Let me tell you on story before I go this week:
A shipment of Silk Thread Art was late and so I asked Kofi to check it out, his answer surprised me. He said that the village maker had run out of a particular color to dye the silk thread. My question was “why can’t you just go to your equivalent of Walmart and buy some dye but in response he said that the color—red I think it was came from a particular beetle that lives on trees in the bush and so the maker is waiting for his helper to return with a bag of fresh beetles ready to be boiled and make the color needed! Authentic all the way! And yes as some of you remember: “It’s all the way live”.