Sunday, July 12, 2009

Talk about "confronting the past"

...



Yesterday, the Obama family toured the Cape Coast fortress in Ghana, from which countless Africans, were forcibly sent to the slave trade. I'm struck by the meaning of this visit, and how the ugly history of slavery is being faced, in an unflinching manner.




Clearly, this part of the trip to Ghana was not a "fun" visit for the Obamas.




I get so frustrated when I hear people refer to "Africa," as if it were one country. (Think of it, you've surely heard a list that goes something like, "France, Germany, Japan, Africa." This drives me nuts.) I'm hoping that this trip signals a new approach to relations between the United States and the countries of Africa.




As a daughter of an immigrant, I'm still delighted by how Barack Obama is re-shaping the definition of "American."




Is it totally shallow to admit how much I love the clothes of the Ghanaian people?




I work with pattern as part of my job, and I adore these exuberant textiles!




How can I not love a culture whose most formal clothes are so bold, joyful and dignified?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey there-

One of the times I was in Africa for museum work (gee, how I miss my former job!) I bought a whole lot of those colorful clothes- printed 2 to a set- and have them in a box somewhere in the barn yet. Hope the mice havent eaten them entirely.

Gary bought some kente cloth sneakers once in Baltimore in Lexington market, and everyone in his office in Baltimore was like "Where did you get those!" Needless to say- $2 will get you some fine threads in B-more, Hon, if you knows where to shop!

Annalisa

Anonymous said...

but Africans from Kenya to Zimbabwe refer to the continent as Africa as if it were a country. I was recently there on Africa Day - the entire continent has a holiday weekend. Cool. I think it's okay to refer to Africa as an entity - yes it's not a country but it is a unique region of the world - most people think of themselves as African before Tanzanian, Zimbabwean, Rhodesian, Kenyan, South Africa etc.

Ken said...

It's not shallow to say how much you love the clothes of the folks from Ghana. I'm proud of my German ancestry, with its bit of Scots mixed in, but those cultures aren't necessarily famous for their expressions of JOY and COLOR and all of that. I've known overly-intellectual folks to come down hard against things like ethnic food fests but to me it's in areas like that where we can most readily celebrate our diversity and, simultaneously, our commonality.

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