Anna Acheampong’s daughter came home upset from school one day in The Netherlands, after questions came up about her race. What was most shocking to Anna was that her daughter insinuated that she would have more friends if her hair was straighter and her eyes were blue.
“My daughter started noticing that she was different from the rest of her classmates and when the questions came up, I asked myself, ‘do I want to raise my kids in this environment?’” said Anna to Travel Noire. “For me growing up in a white neighborhood with white people around me in The Netherlands, I have what I call a ‘race radar.’ I felt racism so much, and I don’t want that for her.
Anna and her husband have Ghanaian fathers and Dutch mothers. They decided to use their daughter’s experience as a teaching moment and moved to Ghana to teach their two-children more about African culture and heritage.
The Acheampongs began their journey during the Year of Return campaign in 2019. It was only supposed to last one year
“I remember our immediate circle saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ ‘Why would you go to Ghana for a year?’” said Anna. “That’s why we started documenting our time here in Ghana on YouTube.”
Through their family YouTube channel, the Acheampongs hope to change the narrative of what it’s like to live in Africa. Anna admits that she was exhausted from the hustle-and-bustle in Europe. In Ghana, the family spends more time on their mental health and wellness and spending quality time together. Anna tells Travel Noire that the best part of living abroad is the fact that they are celebrated in ways they were not in The Netherlands.
“It’s still a very strange thing that we’re learning to deal with. We’re coming from receiving racism to being celebrated. When we tell people that we’re Ghanaian, we came back, people are genuinely happy to be to meet us. It’s amazing,” she said.
At the age of 22, poet Amanda Gorman is an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. She is the author of the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough (2016). Her art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. She has a history of writing for official occasions and has been asked to read her poetry at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Gorman, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard, became America’s first-ever national youth poet laureate in 2017. According to US reports, it was president-elect Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, who recommended her as his inaugural poet. Gorman will be performing on Wednesday alongside Lady Gaga, who will be singing the American national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.“I have kind of stumbled upon this genre. It’s been something I find a lot of emotional reward in, writing something I can make people feel touched by, even if it’s just for a night,” says Gorman. The Los Angeles resident has written for everything from a July 4 celebration featuring the Boston Pops Orchestra to the inauguration at Harvard University, her alma mater, of school president Larry Bacow.
When she reads tomorrow, she will be continuing a tradition — for Democratic presidents — that includes such celebrated poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. The latter’s “On the Pulse of Morning,” written for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton, went on to sell more than 1 million copies when published in book form. Recent readers include poets Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, both of whom Gorman has been in touch with.
“The three of us are together in mind, body and spirit,” she says.
Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and she has made news before. In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV; written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike; published her first book, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough,” as a teenager, and has a two-book deal with Viking Children’s Books. The first work, the picture book “Change Sings,” comes out later this year.
Gorman says she was contacted late last month by the Biden inaugural committee. She has known numerous public figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama, but says she will be meeting the Bidens for the first time. The Bidens, apparently, have been aware of her: Gorman says the inaugural officials told her she had been recommended by the incoming first lady, Jill Biden.
She is calling her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” while otherwise declining to preview any lines. Gorman says she was not given specific instructions on what to write, but was encouraged to emphasize unity and hope over “denigrating anyone” or declaring “ding, dong, the witch is dead” over the departure of President Donald Trump.
As early as the 1600’s, enslaved men and women were brought to Bermuda on ships in route to the southern states of the United States. They worked mostly in the the maritime and tobacco industry, but often fought back and rebelled.
During Bermuda’s period of enslavement, Black men and women would come together in the wee hours of the morning to build their own structures and community buildings. While it was all illegal, they never stopped creating and laying the bricks that would later inspire Black Bermudians of present day.
Before it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from British rule in November 2021, the prosperous West Indies nation will make history by becoming the first country in almost three decades to sever ties with the British royal family and become a republic.
Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of state in the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will be dropped as monarch by Barbados next year. The Caribbean nation will be the first country in nearly 30 years to make such a move, but they are more than ready.
“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason said in a speech on Tuesday. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”
The plan is to be fully sovereign by the country’s 55th anniversary of its independence next November, and it is something that can definitely be achieved.
According to CNN, a spokesperson for the royals informed them that the process is in the hands of Barbados and its citizens. Such moves have been made in the past, with Mauritius being the last to do so in 1992.
After Barbados became independent in 1966 after 341 years of British rule, it chose to retain a formal link with the British royal family, as did other self-governing Commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia.
However, the decision to not sever ties completely was not without controversy, and even the first prime minister of Barbados, Errol Barrow, said that the country should not “loiter on colonial premises”. In 1998, a constitutional review commission in the country recommended that Barbados become a republic. Before Prime Minister Mottley, the move was also championed by her predecessor Freundel Stuart.
So, this week’s announcement does not come as a surprise to Britain, and both the British royal family and the UK foreign ministry have reacted by saying that the decision was up to the people of Barbados.
The Caribbean nation is, however, expected to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the 54-nation club of mostly former British colonies which is led by the queen, and includes India.
The Governor-General of Barbados, who represents the Queen at formal events, said in the Tuesday speech on behalf of the nation’s ruling government, “Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.”
Dance is a form of non-verbal communication for expressing human experiences, which in the course of time has developed into a form of art. Brazil is a land of many popular dances that contain the elements of African, Portuguese and European dance forms. Samba, Carimbo, Capoeira, Forro, Coco, Cacuria, Jongo, Lundu and other dances are some of the famous dances of Brazil.
Here are 10 traditional Brazilian dances worth knowing about.
As the symbol of Brazil, any good list about traditional Brazilian dances has to start with samba. Samba is a Brazilian music genre and dance style notable for its fast footwork and flowing hip swings which, when coupled with the beats of a steel drum, seems to leave spectators in a trance. Its origins lie in the west coast of Africa, coming to Brazil through slavery. It is the music genre and dance most closely linked to Rio de Janeiro.
Some believe that samba was derived from the word ‘semba’, which signifies a navel bump in Kimbundo, the African Bantu language, and symbolizes the invitation to dance from a man to a woman. ‘Semba’ is also an infinitive of ‘kusamba’, which means ‘to pray’, or to appeal for the favor of the Gods or ancestors by singing and dancing. So, the dance was an indispensable part of the religious ceremonies.
Jongo – sometimes known as caxambu – was brought over to Brazil through slavery and is thought to have originated from Angola. The dance is sometimes referred to as an ancient form of samba and a performance of jongo does prove that the step work is often very similar. Lively and spirited, the dance is performed to a harmonious group of people singing and playing simple instruments. It is sometimes associated with Umbanda, a religion with roots in Africa.
The Jongo is still widely practiced today in various cities: The Vale do Paraíba in the Southeast region of Brazil, to the South of the state of Rio de Janeiro and to the North of São Paulo.
Although not fully classified as a dance, it is a unique combination of martial arts, dance and acrobatics. To spectators, the hypnotizing music and fluidity of the moves certainly appear dance-like. Capoeira is another dance that has an African origin, coming over to Brazil through slavery. The moves include fast-paced sweeps, kicks and dodges with the lower body playing out most of the moves whilst the upper body balances the actions.
Lundu is also a dance form brought by the Enslaved Africans, and it became very popular in Brazil during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The basic musical instruments involved are guitar, piano and drum. This dance also involves the use of handkerchief and castanets, an instrument consisting of a pair of hollow pieces of wood, or bone, and is held between the thumb and the fingers.
Xote is a typical type of forro dance that is incredibly versatile and has several variations across the country. Blending both European and African influences, it also incorporates elements of salsa, mambo and rumba, depending on the region in Brazil.
It’s a small Brazilian fritter made from black-eyed peas. The dish uses onions and ground dried shrimp to give it an extra punch in flavor. They’re shaped into balls and deep-fried in boiling azeite dende also known as Brazilian palm oil. The balls are then split in half and filled vatapa, a creamy paste made from finely ground peanuts, shrimp and coconut milk.
To elaborate, you need to soak the peas overnight and strip their skins. This will include the black “eyes”, making it tedious but often optional. But if you opt to do this, you’re rewarded with a creamier texture for the final dish.
History of Acaraje
Acaraje originated from Western Africa, that’s why you can also find it on Nigeria and Ghana. But after getting to the Americas, it became more popular in Salvador, Brazil as street food. Women in Bahia made and sold the dish as well.
It is popular with the Yoruba people of south-western Nigeria and Sierra Leoneans. In Ghana, it is a popular breakfast dish, eaten with millet or corn pudding while in Nigeria it is eaten with bread, ogi or eko, a type of cornmeal made with fine corn flour.
In the Yoruba culture, akara plays a significant role when a person assumes the age of 70 or dies. It is fried in large quantity and distributed across every household close to the deceased. Back in the day, the cake was also prepared in large numbers as a sign of victory when warriors returned victorious from war. Wives of the warriors fried it and distribute to fellow villagers as gratitude for the safe return of their husbands.
In Sierra Leone, akara aside being a street snack, is usually prepared upon the birth of a child, a wedding, funeral or party.
The dish, made from peeled beans formed into a ball and then deep-fried in palm oil or vegetable oil, is found in West African and Brazilian cuisines. It was sent to the Americas, especially Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia by the West Africa enslaved from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali, Gambia and Sierra Leone.
With that, the dish became part of the “heritage culture” of Bahia. Its ceremony of certification happened at the headquarters of the National Institute of Artistic and Historic Heritage in Salvador. The ceremony featured a lot of proud women, serving lots of trays to everyone.
The dish’s name is a funny mistake since its real name is “acara”. But women from the Yoruba ethnical group selling these shout “acara -je”, meaning, “I have acara”.
Acarajé is sold on Brazil’s streets but here it is variously made with fried beef, mutton, dried shrimp, pigweed, fufu osun sauce and coconut. Distinct sellers wear all-white cotton dresses and headscarves and caps. The bean cake is reported to have made its way to Bahia in the 19th century.
Earnings from its sale was used to sometimes buy the freedom of enslaved family members until the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888 while serving as a source of family income. It also has a notable presence in Sergipe and the markets of Rio de Janeiro.
Acarajé serves as both a religious offering to the gods in the Candomblé religion and as street food.
As an essential ritual food used in Afro-Brazilian religious traditions such as Candomblé, it is offered to the orixá Exu. They vary in size based on their offering to a specific deity: large, round acarajé are offered to Xangô; smaller ones in form are offered to Iansã. Small, fritter-size acarajé are offered to Erês, or child spirits. Acarajé is used in Candomblé rituals in the states of Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Maranhão.
Acarajé was listed as a federal immaterial asset (patrimônio nacional imaterial), by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 2004; the role of baianas in the preparation and sale of acarajé was recognized in the same act.
Today, acarajé represents a good example of how African influences have been shaping Brazil’s cultural heritage and its culinary identity.
We are spotlighting the work of five Afro-Latinx whose work you should be listening to. These five poets are an excellent starting point for understanding the power of poems as social commentary and gaining perspective on the Afro-Latinx experience.
Fashion has always been a world-building up multiple trends in order to validate your resume of fashion addicts and to see how your creativity can reinvent those trends and make them yours.
There is a meaning behind everything, and sometimes we don’t necessarily pay attention to the cultural or spiritual aspect of what we wear. Fashion has demystified apparat, trendiness took out their real estate and the values that they encouraged.
We will talk about some accessories that we’ve seen on our favorite cover magazine or celebrity and give their ethnic aspect in Africa and for others in the world.
Cowries are now the trendiest accessory you can have in your closet this year. Traveling from Africa, Asia, their necklaces and jewelry are on every continent.
In the past, it was used as a currency in West Africa, one of the most successful in the world, especially during the great empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhaï.
Cowries had a strong spiritual value and cultural aspect, horns, fetishes were set with cowries used by both healer and sorcerer. These objects and costumes covered with them are found in Casamance among the Diola and in Eastern Senegal among the Bassari, where the traditional religion is still alive.
On the symbolic level, the cowries are frequently connected with the feminine.
Their shape being associated with that of the female sex, cowries can be used during fertility rites. Unfortunately, in most countries, cowries have lost its ritualistic and symbolic value, even though in some tribes it is still used and seen as a protective charm or divination tool by divine tellers, but now we can all give them another sense through fashion and we are loving it.
Beyoncé (Singer, Songwriter), wearing a Lafalaise Dion headpiece
Gold is the most precious metal in the world but guess which continent produced and register the largest goldmine? Africa. Egyptians Gods and pharaoh were always represented with gold, it was one of the most symbolic object to define royalty.
African history with gold despite of the blood spilled caused by covetousness, still remain one of the most common used material in our communities. You have seen gold in weddings, married couples were certainly dancing with their golden costume and jewelry. Gold implies wealth in our societies and nowadays shines on rings, necklaces, gourmets, etc
Meanwhile, it still has its same aspect in Akan tribes having a symbol of power, spiritual force by creating statuette that were worshipped and used as another language for educational purpose to the youngest. In Mali, the Dioula people use it as a lucky and protective charm. You will hear stories of gold being a present from the gods in countries like Ghana, Mali and South Africa that still have a strong relationship with gold and are the countries producing the most in the world.
Mansa Musa, was the tenth Mansa of the Mali Empire and made Mali the largest producer of gold in the world, and Musa has been considered one of the richest people on earth.
Bags and handbags have been noted throughout history as far back as ancient Egypt – hieroglyphics depict men carrying bags tied around their waist (similar to a modern-day fanny pack).
Peasants and farmers in early civilizations were known to carry seeds and grains in small bags and African priests have been known to carry beaded bags as a sign of luxury and power. They were shaped through fashion and adapted to every need from the smallest to the largest (Handbags, Backpack).
“Ghana must go” is a brand that we all have seen one day at the airport or we even ourselves carried to travel, this popular bag was used by several West African citizens, especially Ghanaians, to contain their belongings as they were forced to leave Nigeria during the 1980s. Now it’s getting appropriated by western fashion companies during their fashion shows. Handbags have become a fashion accessory, that men and women cannot live without.
Some people still believe that Europeans are the ones that introduced shoes in Africa, that we were a land of naked and barefoot.
Let me warn you before you start realizing your ignorance. They were often reserved for ceremonial functions and for royalty. Traditional materials to make shoes, as discerned by anthropologists, were rawhide, leather, and metal; to mention a few. Interestingly, archaeologists have discovered that Ancient Egyptians made shoes for the right and left foot; unlike earlier European shoes.
The Hausa seem to have the most documented shoe history of the continent. Their leatherwork is considered legendary throughout West Africa and their intrinsic work has constructed the likes of boots and sandals. Ghana, in particular the Akan’s community, had
the Ahenema which is a local slipper that commands respect, majesty, and authority in society. The shoes were made using plant material, with climbing plants making the upper and gradually started to use leather in the shoes which were referred to as ‘chawchaw’ which were for the kings and a few queens in the kingdom.
It’s actually hard to precisely know who made the first eyewear in history. Some will talk about the Inuit’s who made rustic ivory sunglasses to protect their eyes from sunlight. Furthermore, it served judges in Ancient China during the trial, made of “smoke-colored quartz” it was used to prevent the prosecution and defense from being able to read the judges’ expressions and not be altered or influenced by accidental facial reactions. Egyptians have the most ancient lenses but we don’t really know if they had sunglasses.
Nowadays sunglasses are a must to have a classy, trendy and are a celebrity go-to accessory but it was either to protect your eyes or used as a microscope.
Why do you wear your accessories, would tell us more? Subscribe to our mail address we want to read everybody!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.