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From a Yoruba family in Lagos State, Nigeria, Babatunde Olatunji, while living in the U.S. after winning a scholarship to study at Morehouse College in Atlanta, wanted to become a diplomat. Thus, after graduating from Morehouse in 1954, he enrolled in the Graduate School of Public Administration and International Relations at New York University.

But two things later moved him towards a career in music. The first was his visit to Ghana as a delegate to the All African People’s Conference organized by Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah, who told him he thinks he should be a cultural ambassador. The second was his meeting with Columbia Records producer John Hammond after a concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Hammond would help Olatunji produce his 1959 debut Drums of Passion album which some say may have been the first African music release recorded in a modern U.S. studio.

That album became a major hit, selling millions of copies globally and helping introduce Americans to world music. Olatunji would go on to promote African music, earning a Grammy nomination, being behind compositions for Broadway and Hollywood, as well as appearing on programs including the Tonight Show, the Mike Douglas Show and the Bell Telephone Hour.

In 1964, after performing at the New York World Fair’s African Pavilion, he used the proceeds to open his own Olatunji Center for African Culture in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, where he offered classes in African dance, music, language, folklore, and history. Soon, Olatunji became highly recognized as a pioneer in the fusion of African music and jazz. “…We were playing ‘Afro-jazz’ before anybody called it that,” the recording artiste, who grew up in a fishing village in Nigeria where drumming accompanied every celebration, recalled in an interview.

But while his contribution to music is well known, his commitment to social activism is rarely talked about. “He really deserves to be remembered more for his role as a political activist in the US civil rights movement – before it was even a movement,” Robert Atkinson, who collaborated with Olatunji on his autobiography The Beat of My Drum, was quoted by the BBC in a report.
Indeed, Olatunji’s social activism work started right from his days at Morehouse, where he debunked common myths about Africa.

“They [classmates] had no concept of Africa,” he recalled. “They asked all kinds of questions: ‘Do lions really roam the streets? Do people sleep in trees?’ They even asked me if Africans had tails! They thought Africa was like the Tarzan movies. Ignorance is bliss, but it is a dangerous bliss.
“Africa had given so much to world culture, but they didn’t know it.”

Thus, Olatunji started educating his colleagues about Africa, including its cultural traditions and music. He then went ahead to play African music at university social gatherings while organizing and performing at concerts featuring African and African-American students. These activities were during the height of Jim Crow, and soon, Olatunji was organizing students to challenge the status quo in the south.

Even before Rosa Parks would spark the Montgomery bus boycott, Olatunji was already staging protests on public buses with some of his fellow students.

As president of the Morehouse student body in the 1950s, he was able to meet scores of civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X. As a matter of fact, when King delivered his historic I Have a Dream speech in August 1963 during the March on Washington, Olatunji was among the over 200,000 people at the event. The percussionist, social activist and educator performed many times for the NAACP and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

 

And at many civil rights rallies, Malcolm X would request him to drum. The man, who is to date described as “the father of African drumming in the U.S.”, was also on the civil rights jazz album We Insist! with playwright Oscar Brown Jr and Max Roach. Back home in Africa, Olatunji was also a part of the anti-colonial resistance movements that had risen across the continent, attending the All African People’s Conference organized by Nkrumah.

The conference, attended by delegates from African countries, prominent African Americans and liberation movements, held discussions on how to achieve continental freedom. Nkrumah had argued that Ghana’s independence would be meaningless if other African states are still colonized by the European powers, and Olatunji couldn’t agree more.

Black History Month 2021: A Brief History, What To Know And How To Celebrate

As stated in a report, his involvement in the civil rights movement in the U.S. was largely inspired by the several forms of resistance to colonialism that was occurring in Africa. “He saw himself as a pan-Africanist who always reached out to unify Africans and African Americans,” his wife, Iyafin Ammiebelle Olatunji, told BBC in an interview.

Olatunji in his last years continued to perform while teaching others about African culture and drumming. Before he passed away in 2003 aged 76, he had become known for recordings such as “Celebrate Freedom, Justice and Peace”, “Healing Rhythms, Songs and Chants”, as well as the 1998 Grammy-nominated release, on Chesky Records of “Love Drum Talk”.

Source: Face2face Africa

Kunga Kihohia went to one of the best schools in Florida. He graduated, was making money, and then one day lost everything. He ended up homeless in Miami, sleeping in his car. Then a trip to Kenya would change his life.

His parents are from Kenya, but he was born and raised and spent most of his life in Florida.

He traveled to Kenya for the first time at the age of 10 and stayed there for about five years, where he learned his parents’ native tongue. He traveled back to the US for high school and college, where he graduated from Florida International University in Miami.

Kihohia didn’t travel to Kenya for more than 15 years once he was back in the states.  After spending some time working in corporate America, he told Travel Noire in an interview that he realized he was “psychologically unemployable.”

“I was in the business-world chasing money, making a lot of money, but I was really unhappy because I had moved away from my purpose,” he said, adding that he found himself overweight and overall, unhappy.

So, Kihohia went on a journey to Kenya to find himself and, ultimately, save his life.

“I started this journey of coming back to nature and coming back to my own peace, which involved coming back to Africa. The lifestyle I had gotten involved with was putting me on a path of self-destruction.”

The trip was only supposed to last for three weeks.  It took him some time to adjust, as it was his first time back to Kenya in more than a decade.  As he began to settle, he realized that people in Kenya were far more content despite some challenges, than people in America.

Back To Nature Organic Farm

Kihohia said he’s always been a serial entrepreneur, but Back To Nature Organic Farm grew out of his interests and passion.

“The farm is only part of a larger vision, and a larger movement called the “Back to Nature Movement.” It’s part of our philosophy and ideology that states, “the closer we are to nature, the more whole, happy, at peace and at ease we are.”

Through the organic farm and the movement, Kihohia said that his mission is to inspire, motivate and encourage Kenyans, East Africans, Africans, including those from the diaspora, to adopt a more natural holistic lifestyle approach towards maintaining or regaining health and wellness.

With a few other like-minded individuals, Kihohia decided that they wanted to control the food system as they saw a rise in diseases in Kenya, such as cancer, hypertension, and more.

“When there’s a will, there’s a way. We started learning all the components about the soil water systems,  harvesting and post-harvest losses,  markets, dealing with human resources, human capital […] there are so many components, but we belly-flopped into it.”

#BlackWomenToKnow: Meet Sarah Chan, Raptors Lead Scout in Africa

2021 will mark the fifth anniversary of his journey back home and back to nature. During this time, Kihohia went from obese, stressed, and homeless to the founder of one of the largest organic farms in Kenya, where he’s happy and living life with no regrets.

“My advice to anyone looking to make a move abroad, especially to Africa, is to follow your heart. At the end of the day, this life is temporary. No one gets out alive. We all sign a contract unwittingly that no one leaves alive. It’s vital that while you have your time on this earth, to make it as significant as possible, give it meaning,” said Kihohia.

To learn more about Back to Nature, visit the IG page: @backtonatureafrika.

Source: Travel Noire

Through her company, African Ancestry Inc., Gina Paige is helping individuals curious about their African heritage trace their roots through DNA testing, And in doing so, pioneered a new way of tracing African lineages using genetics, and a new marketplace for people of African descent looking to more accurately and reliably trace their roots. Gina Paige travels the world helping people demystify their roots and inform on identities so that they may better understand who they are by knowing where they’re from.

Dr. Gina Paige has worked with and revealed the roots of the worlds’ leading icons and entities including Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Chadwick Boseman, Spike Lee, Condoleezza Rice and The King Family. Paige has served as speaker, presenter and/or partner to McDonalds, Capital One, The Walt Disney Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, Wells Fargo, The Wall Street Journal Health Forum 2019, United Healthcare and dozens of community organizations and faith-based entities. She’s often a go-to resource for African Diaspora communities including the Embassies of Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana.

#InspiredByHer With Gina Paige

Can you please tell us about yourself and background?

I love Black people. All aspects of my life are guided by this simple principle and it is what led me to co-found a company that’s in the business of being Black!  

People also say that I have entrepreneurial DNA because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. After starting businesses in elementary school and after college, I now run a company that’s the world leader of genetic ancestry tracing for people of African descent.  For specifics, see my attached bio.    

How did you get involved and become a co- founder of African Ancestry?

I was fortunate to be introduced by a colleague to leading geneticist, Dr. Rick Kittles, our company’s Co-founder and Scientific Director. Dr. Kittles’ passion for the movements of African people across the world, combined with his research and compilation of thousands of African lineages that comprise our company’s database —  sparked it all. We combined his science expertise and my business acumen to form  African Ancestry   

You discovered from your African Ancestry test you share paternal genetic ancestry with Hausa people in Nigeria. Have you visited Nigeria?

I have visited seven African countries. My plan is to finally visit Nigeria in 2020!

Was it easy to bring the African Diaspora into this experience?

Yes and no.  When you think about it, African Americans have been here in the U.S. for more than 400 years. Unfortunately, we have been disconnected from our African heritage just as long. That means that for many of us, we have been longing to know our roots for generations. On the other hand, it also means that we have been subject to every negative stereotype possible about Africa and so  there are others of us who want nothing to do with being from there. This is why AfricanAncestry.com exists. We reconnect people across the world with their true African roots. And our customers are excited to find out and transformed through the process.      

What Motivates you at African Ancestry to help people reconnect with their African roots?  Was it your own experience?

I am motivated by the fact that I am a Black woman with the ability to use my skills and talents to provide a service that expands that way that we view ourselves and Africa in a unique, unparalleled way.    

How many people have utilized your product and service? We have helped nearly one million families reconnect with their roots.

Who are some of the notable people that have experienced the work of African Ancestry? You can find a list of notables here (Wall of Return). It includes people like Chadwick Boseman and Oprah Winfrey. However, the most fulfilling part of our work is the excitement and reactions of everyday people … especially young people like Julian Frederick @stepstoolchef.

#Inspiredwithher with Dr Gina Paige
Comedian and Actress Loni Love Traces Her African Roots to Nigeria With AfricanAncestry.com

What’s your next step after you get in touch with your ancestral background? Do you encourage them to travel and see for themselves where they come from?

We refer to the process of finding your roots with AfricanAncestry.com as “The African Ancestry Experience”. It begins with taking the test and then takes off from there. We provide information resources and training and we facilitate connections and engagement.   For example:

  • The African Ancestry Online Community empowers test takers to meet, exchange and share with other members of the African Ancestry Family. Strong bonds have been formed among members in the group that share similar ancestries.
  • African Ancestry Family Reunions are specially curated birthright journeys home to the countries of Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ghana, providing a more meaningful way to visit and experience our roots in Africa. 
  • Programs such as The Ultimate Selfie Youth initiative, The AfricanAncestry.com Experience event and our flagship African Ancestry Reveal Ceremonies, among others, celebrate our connections to Africa and educate groups on various countries and tribes.  

#InspiredByHer: Meet Sarah Chan, First African Woman to be a Lead Scout for An NBA franchise.

We have seen these years the necessity for African Diaspora to come back, we had the Year of Return in Ghana that attracted more thousands of people landing in Accra. Is your mission aiming to fulfillment or is there more to do?

We have seen unprecedented momentum due in part to efforts such as the 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act, Ghana’s Year of Return and The 1619 Project, but there’s always more to do.  For AfricanAncestry.com, we won’t stop until every Black person displaced from their African roots knows where they’re from; and those that know, use their knowledge to enhance self and community.

What was the funniest reaction you had after someone took his Ancestry Reveal? 

We recently did an African Ancestry Reveal for some employees at Facebook’s NY office. The guy I was about to reveal is quiet and reserved. When I revealed that he shared ancestry with the Yoruba people in Nigeria, he had a huge smile on his face. But the entire room of over 100 people exploded with shouts and claps and screams of “Naija!”. They had the outward loud and raucous expression of the joy that he was feeling inside. It was a priceless moment! 

Entrepreneurship is challenging. What keeps you going/motivated?

I am motivated by the reactions and the impact that our work has. It is an honor for me to be able to serve Black people in the Business of Being Black. 

gina Paige

What would you say to motivate/ empower women who want to go into entrepreneurship but are scared and nervous?

I would tell them to embrace the fear first and then use it to their advantage. In my experience, when you admit things to yourself, it diminishes the power it has over you.

I also believe it’s important to start a business that you’re passionate about. There are many, many factors that affect the growth and sustainability of any company, and if you’re not driven beyond the money, you won’t last.

And always remember — most women are already entrepreneurs.  We’re working jobs, running homes, raising kids, taking care of mates, handling civic duties and maintaining social lives. Use this as a reminder that you’re naturally equipped with what it takes to succeed.

 

 

 

Regardless of where you are at in your Natural hair journey, there are a few natural hair essentials that will help to keep your strands healthy and flourishing. With the wide range and ever-growing selection of natural hair products stocking shelves, it is easy to become a self proclaimed product junkie.

Here are a few natural hair essentials that can help you to take better care of your hair

It would be hard to find a little girl who’s never wanted to be a Disney princess. Or any princess for that matter. Unfortunately, our media is not very inclusive and the majority of iconic princesses in children’s movies and books fit a very stiff mold that not all children can relate to. But as our society is becoming more progressive, so is the media and art. Hairstylist LaChanda Gatson decided to redefine the image of a traditional princess in a stunning photoshoot that showcases elegant, colorful and brave African American princesses

Regis and Kahran, the duo behind CreativeSoul Photography, produced a series of 14 photographs showcasing princesses with “[their] own dash of style, culture and swag”. Bored Panda reached out to the photographer duo and they provided a brief explanation behind the project. “The princess series was created by hairstylist LaChanda Gatson and child photographers CreativeSoul Photography,” they explained how this project was a collaboration between creative minds.

The goal is to inspire more girls around the world to start seeing themselves as regal princesses,” the photographers explained. We could definitely spot some similarities with the iconic Disney princesses so we decided to guess which ones they might represent!

See the stunning princesses for yourself

      #1 Princess Rapunzel

disney princesses reimagined as black princesses     

 #2 – PRINCESS JASMINE

   #3- PRINCESS TIANA

#4- PRINCESS CINDERELLA

#5- PRINCESS NALA

#6- PRINCESS MOANA

#7- PRINCESS POCAHONTAS

#8- PRINCESS ANNA

#9- PRINCESS ELSAWhat 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#Africancreativeseries: Meet Mobile Photographer, Derrick O Boateng From Ghana

#9-  PRINCESS SNOW WHITE

What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#N011- PRINCESS AURORA
What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#NO12- PRINCESS SHURIWhat 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#NO12- PRINCESS BELLEMore info: creativesoulphoto.com | Facebook | Instagram | Facebook | Instagram

What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

#NO14 – PRINCESS ARIEL
What 14 Disney Princesses Would Like If They Were African American

The photographers also revealed that people’s response has been great so far! “The social media response has been amazing with currently over 75,000 reshares on our Facebook post and several other pages,” they told Brored panda

 

Source:Bored Panda

 

 

The highly anticipated National Museum of African American Music is scheduled to open in Downton Nashville in Summer 2020, the National museum of African American music will be a 56,000 square-foot facility that will encourage visitors to discover the many connections and influences that African Americans have made on America’s music.  From classical to country, to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM will integrate history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and sub-genres of music.  it will be an unparalleled institution, not confined by record label, genre or recording artist, but instead will tell a unique narrative through the lens of black music and bring musicians from the past to the present.

“The perception nationally, I think, is that Nashville is just country music. And while we love country music, I think it’s important to touch base on all the other musical genres African Americans have helped to influence,” Tamar Smithers, director of Education and Public Programs​​, told Black Enterprise.

 

There have been several efforts made to push projects that celebrate Black music history forward. Last year legendary music mogul Berry Gordy donated $4 million towards the expansion of the Detroit-based Motown Museum. The museum—which is inside of the record label’s first headquarters—captures the history, impact and influence that Motown has had on the music industry and beyond by highlighting the stories of artists like Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and The Jackson 5.

10 African Fashion Brands That Magnify Men’s Wear

African American music has a very rich history and originated from slaves during the 1600s who used songs to communicate with each other. In the fields as slaves were working you could hear them singing songs to pass the time. Back in Africa, rhythm was part of daily life and was incorporated into labour, rituals, and celebrations within the community.

Check out the virtual tour below:

 

It’s time to get the kids dressed and head down to the mall for that most time honoured of traditions—the Santa picture. Whether your baby is too little to know what’s going on or your 10-year-old is phasing Santa out of their holiday joy, this time of year means putting on their uncomfortable but cute holiday outfits, waiting in line for ages, and paying out the nose for another holiday treasure.