Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Turkana People

Turkana People - Kenya

The Turkana of Kenya, numbering about 340,000, are a nilotic people. They live in northwest Kenya in the Turkana region, an arid and hot region bordering Lake Turkana in the east. The Turkana speak a language they call Ng'aturk(w)ana, by is know to the rest of the world as Turkana.

Traditionally the men and women of the Turkana wear wraps of rectangular woven material, however, the other obtects of adornment differ between the men and the women. The men wear their wraps similar to tunics and carry wrist knives made of steel and goat hide. They Also carry stools which they call ekicholongs and they utlilize them as simple chairs so as to avoid having to sit on the hot midday sand. These stools also double as headrests, keeping the head elevated and out of the sand, they protect ceremonial head decorations from being damaged. Turkana men are also known for carrying several walking staffs as once, normally one is used for walking and balancing, but another usually longer stick is kept to prod livestock while herding.
Turkana women wear beaded necklaces, but also wear their hair in a braided mohawk and adorned with beads.
THe Turkana rely on a few rivers, (Turkwel River, Kerio River) and when these rivers are in flood, new sediment and water extend onto the riverplain that is cultivated after heavy rainstorms which don't occur very often. When dry, the riverbeds are dug up to create an open-pit well which is then used for human consumption as well as for watering livestock.

The Turkana, like many other African tribal groups, hold lovestock as a very important aspect of their culture. Livestock is not only seen as a producer of milk and meat, but also as a form of currency, often used for bridal dowries. The Turkana herd goats, camels, donkeys and sheep, often a Turkana male is give a single animal as a young man, he then will accumulated more via animal husbandry. In turn, once sufficient livestock has been accumulated, the animals will be used to negotiate for a wife. Turkana men can take on more than one wife, however the number of wives he has is limited by the livestock he is able to accumulate.

log on now for more information:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Baga People

The Baga people live along the coast of Guinnea Bissau where they number about 45,000. They live in villages divided into two and four quartiers, which are inturn divided into five or six clans. Traditionally , each village was governed by the eldest member of each clan, who met in secret to discuss tribal matters. More recently, this sysem has been replaced, and each village is now headed by an elected 'mayor'.
The Baga are a farming community, cultivating primarily rice in wet patties along the coast. Cotton, gourds, millet, oil palms, okra, sesame and sorgum are other locally grown commodities. The Baga also have the belief that abundance can be encouraged by placing benevolent spirits embodied in carved wooden figures in specially constructed huts between the village and the bush. Some coastal fihing is also undertaken and play san inportant role in the Baga economy.
Spiritually, the Baga believe in a single god, Kanu, who is assisted by Somtop, a male spirit and by A-Bol, a female spirit. Below them, the spirit, A-mantsho-nga-Tshol, who is often represented as a snake, serves as the patron of the two lowest grades of the To-lom societ which overseas the different initiation ceremonies.

The Baga are famous for their Nimba headress, known to the Baga as d'emba. A shoulder mask, standing on four legs, it has a pair of large breats, enlarged head, u-shaped ears, and is work by dancers during festivals and ceremonies relating to births, marriages, harvest ceremonies and some other joyous celebrations. It is said to represent a woman who has born children, and to symbolize fertility.
The Baga snake headresses or Bansonyi, representing the spirit A-mantsho-nga-Tshol, (master of medicine)sometime measuring up to 10 feet high and typically display a rearing snake, polychrome decoration and eyes. Two or sometimes more dancers, clad in raffia costumes or textiles and palm frons, with the assistance of light framework decorated with feathers, ribbons and bells would support these headresses on their shoulders or heads. The masked figures representing the sections of the village would face one another, and, urged on by spectators, they open the ceremony with amock battle intended to inspire the village unity. Among most Baga subgroups, only adolescent males learn the secrets of the snake-spirit, during the Ka-Bere-Tshol initiation which marks the passage to adult status. The Bansonyi had a variety of functions. Beside appearing at funerals, they detact destructive forces, cure sterility, protect boys at circumcision and end droughts.
A-Tshol (meaning medicine) figures, or as sometimes called, elek figures were used principally as shrine figures, but sometime also as headresses. These figures took the form of a head with an exceptionally long beak and a long neck inserted into a base structure. The head also has anthropomorphic aspects such as a coiffure, ears, forhead and nose. A-Tshol figures were placed in the young man's sacred grove as a guardian during initiation, a time when they were considered to be suceptable to destructive forces as during these initiation ceremonies, a trance like state was often entered. A T-shol was under the control of the oldest member of the family as a symbolic incarnation of the lineage.
This Baga Bird Headdress, or a-Bamp headdress as the Baga call it, is very popular among the young initiates and boys. Typical form of these bird statues are a long nech and beak, body with chest protruding, broad wings, they often are sculpted with two birds on their backs, a house and sometimetimes a snake. It is intricately carved and colored with pigment in abstract lines and checkerboard. The a-Bemp dance performed by the masquerader is full of vigor, crouching and again leaping up, tilting the headdress from left to right, all done to the rythm of men beating on slit gongs and drums. It is generally a nocternal dance, and the masquerader is followed by an initiate hold a flame torch.
The Tonkongba mask of the Baga are usually kept in fornt of the clan's shrine. It is sometimes worn by masqueraders during ceremonies involving sacrifices, such as funerals. It is believed that Tonkongba has the power to know both good and bad news.

The Asante People

The Asante empire was founded in the early 17th century under the rule of the first king, Osei Tutu. According to legend, a golden stool descended from heaven and into the lap of Osei Tutu. The stoll is believed to house the spirit of the Asante people just as it is believed that an individuals stool houses his spirit after death.
The Asante are situated in Southern Ghana, numbering about one and a half million people. The Asante were a dominant power in Ghana, and their early economic structure of the Asante was based on trade of gold and slaves to the Mande and Hausa traders as well as the Europeans in the coastal regions. Acting as middlemen in the slave trade, the Asante were given guns and luxury goods strengthening them as a group.
Asante society, inheritance was through maternal line. The essential role of an Asante woman was to bear children, preferably girls. The Asante fertility, akua’ba, and mother-and-child figures Esi Mansa, were very popular and widely carved due to the importance of maternity and child bearing. The akua’ba figures have disc like heads which embodied the Asante concept of beauty, and were carried by woman wishing to become pregnant and be blessed with the birth of a beautiful child. The akua’ba figures had a secondary purpose too, it was believed the if a child went missing, by placing a akua’ba doll at the edge of the forest with food and silver coins, it would attract the malevolent spirit responsible for the disappearance. The spirit would replace the akua’ba figure with the child, taking the food and silver coins.
The Esi Mansa mother-and-child figures were housed in royal and commoner shrines, emphasizing the importance of family and lineage. They express the Asante ideas about nurturing, family and the continuity of matrilineage through a daughter or of the state through a son.
The Asante are also well known for their ceremonial stool carvings, an curved u-shaped seat, over a base, referring to a proverb or a symbol of wisdom. The Asante are famous for their ceremonial stools carved with an arched sit set over a foot, referring to a proverb or a symbol of wisdom. They are usually made for a chief when he takes office and are adorned with beads or copper nails and sheets. In rare cases, when the chief is sufficiently important, the stool is placed in a special room following his death to commemorate his memory. Ashanti chairs are based on 17 century European models and, unlike stools; do not have any spiritual function. They are used as prestige objects by important chiefs during festivities or significant gatherings.
Also are produced staffs for royal spokesmen, which, like the handles of state swords, are covered in gold foil. The success of the Ashanti Empire depended on the trade in gold not only with Europeans at the coast but also with the Muslim north. Gold dust was the currency, weighed against small brass weights that were often geometric or were representations recalling well-known proverbs. Asante weavers developed a style of weaving of great technical mastery, incorporating imported silk.
The Asante developed remarkably diverse kuduo containers cast of copper alloys. Kuduo were used in many ways. They held gold dust and other valuables, but could also be found in important political and ritual contexts. Some kuduo were buried with their owners, while others were kept in the palace shrine rooms that housed the ancestral stools of deceased state leaders. Life and the afterlife, the present and the past, were enhanced and made more meaningful by the presence of these elegant prestige vessels.

The Pokot People

The Pokot people live in the western Pokot and Baringo districts of Kenya and in eastern Karmoja in Uganda.

The Pokot history is a complicated one, they seem to be related to many peoples of the region, with ties to the Nilo-Hematic people from the north and the Bantu from central Africa. The Pokot have two main sub groups. Due to their nomadic life, adopted by most of the Pokot, they have interacted with many different peoples throughout their history. Social customs of neighbors were thus incorporated into their way of life and marriage with other communities was common. Their neighbors, the Turkana of Kenya and the Karamojo of Uganda seem to have had the greatest influence on the Pokot.

The Pokot society is governed through a series of age grades, and membership to any specific group would be determined by the age at which a Pokot would go through their initiation into that group or society. For the men it is usually between the ages of fifteen and twenty, whereas for the women, it is around twelve. Young people are allowed to for matrimonial binds once the initiation has been completed as well as begin taking part in the local econimc functions. There are close bonds formed within the initiation groups, that are functional in future political ties as they move through the ranks of the tribal structure. When Pokot peoples reach old age, they get a certain degree of status and the respect that goes with that. Elders have responsibilities to the Pokot such as presiding over important tribal decisions, festivals and religious celebrations.

The Pokot are mostly cattle herders/farmers, but about a quarter are cultivators, mostly growing corn. However, whether a cultivator or pastoralist, the measure of wealth among the Pokot is determined by the number of cows one owns. Cows are used for barter, and exchange, which further goes into "bride wealth". A man is permitted to take more than one wife, as long as he has enough cows to offer her family in exchange for her hand in marriage. Their cattle are hardly ever slaughterd for meat as they are far more valuable alive. The cattle also provide milk, butter, and cheese which are an important part of the diet of the Pokot.

The Pokot believe in Tororot being the supreme diety, and prayers and libations are offered to him during a variety of tribal festivals and dances that are overseen by the Pokot elders. The Pokot also have diviners that are responsible for maintaining the spiritual balance of the community. The Pokot are superstitious and believe in sorcery, and call on various forms of protective talismans to ward off the ill will of any sorcerors. The Pokot also revere other dieties such as the sun, moon and the spirit of death.

for more tribes and african art

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Malaria Problems in Africa - How you can help

A million deaths a year, almost 90% of them children under the age of five, the culprit MALARIA!

Because of the debilitating nature of Malaria, families stricken with this disease are unable to tend and harvest up to 60% of their crops. This means less to eat and even less to barter with.

And thus the cycle of poverty and disease begins.
This planet is a malarious planet, though it may not seem that way when looked at from the vantage point of a wealthy country, where if we even consider malaria, it is thought of as a problem that has mostly been solved. In actuality, malaria now affects more people than ever before.. In recent years, the parasite has grown so entrenched and has developed resistance to so many drugs that the most potent strains can scarcely be controlled. This year malaria will strike up to half a billion people. At least one million will die, most of them under the age of five, the vast majority living in Africa. That's more than twice the annual toll a generation ago.
Malaria, a plague of the poor is easy to overlook, though in the past few years, malaria captured the full attention of aid agencies and donors. The world health Organization has made malaria reduction a chief priority. The idea is to disable the disease by combining vitually every known malaria-fighting technique, from the ancinct (Chinese herbal medications), to the old (bed nets) to the ultra modern (multidrug cocktails). At the same time, malaria researchers are persueing a long-sought, elusive goal; a vaccine that would curb the disease for good.
Most of the aid is going to a few hard hit countries scattered across sub-Saharan Africa. If these nations can beat back disease, they'll serve as templates for the global anti-malaria effort. And if they can't? Well, nobody in the malaria world likes to answer that question.
Where can you help?
We at African Sky have partnered with another organization to get malaria medications to rural areas of southern Mali where we already have a support structure in place. The medications are guaranteed to get to the people that need them most, the way that medications are meant to, free of charge. African Sky will make your entire donation work in the fight against malaria. A $20 dosage purchase, buys the medication, has it shipped to Mali, and provides a small percentage for training the local clinics to administer the drug and care for the patient. Just think, your $20 could save the life of another innocent child that doesn't have a choice.
What will we be supplying?
The drug of choice, is the newest malaria cure available, which also happens to be based on one of the oldest - an herbal medicine derived from a weed related to sage-brush, sweet wormwood, called artemisia. This treatment was first described in a Chinese medical text written in the fourth century A.D. but seems to have been overlooked by the rest of the world until now. The new version, Artemisinin, is as powerful as quinine with few side effects. It is the last remaining surefire malaria cure. Other drugs can still play a role in treatment, but the parasites have developed resistance to all of them, including quinine itself. To help reduce the odds that mutation will also disarm artemisinin, derivatives of the drug are mixed with other compounds in an antimalarial barrage known as artemisinin-based combination therapy, or ACT.

Log on now, buy a complete treatment to save a life..........