Beyonce Africanized ::: #graphAfrica

 

The biggest artist of our times is Beyonce. Hands down. Hi five to the entire Bey-hive – all gazillion of you! It’s almost safe to say that she’s dominated the entire second decade of the 21st century. Why am I writing about her when I’m supposed to be focusing on Africa? you ask. Well, there are connections to be made and possible appropriation to be concluded because her originality can and needs to be challenged.

 

It’s actually quite interesting how, in her crafting and curating herself, she has sprinkled or rather doused who she presents herself to the world with the magic of *whispers loudly and raspily* “Africa”. Admittedly, I see African influences in every freaking thing and as someone who is an animated and trained dancer with an ear for music from all over the world WITH a BLOG..!! I’ll just run through a few of them as seen through a particular/single song and performance and bring it all together at the end:

 

Beyonce performs Grown Woman at Bercy in Paris as part of the Mrs. Carter tour:

  • acacia trees in the savanna themed background
  • high stand up ponytail a la Coming to America
  • handwoven hand fan used either to fan oneself or reignite the dying embers on a fire
  • Bey dances the popular Congolese dance known as malembe (literally means gently or slowly in Lingala) that can pretty much be considered sweepingly “African” dance
  • her dancers come out rocking some fly rompers by renowned Ghanaian designer Christie Brown (fanning themselves with the hand fans)
  • Bey and her lineup of dancers proceed to do a tame version of the popular [rather graphic and suggestive] Ivorian dance called the “mapouka reculer” (couldn’t find a video appropriate enough to link – Google it)
  • Les Twins come on and sample a South African gumboot dance sans the gumboots
  • the screens in the background are flashing zebras on the gentle prowl – we all know they’re indigenous to the continent
  • melodic bellows from the Guinean crooner Ismael Kouyate and Beyonce avec Les Twins proceed to do a safe mapouka or what some in the US only know recently as the twerk

 

The song continues on it’s jammingness, but the part where she really gets down on her Grown Woman-ness is when the drums are the heaviest and the song sounds the most African. Beyonce’s so original *insert dramatic eye roll*, but all these things are not for nothing. They are part of a continuum in her life and involvements between she and her husband. Who knows when it will end. Will she keep ripping dance moves, will Boko Haram release the Chibok girls to only her, ….

To not risk coming off as a Beyonce hater I will say what her greatness comes from is the fact that she does not let her left hand know what her left hand is doing. To me, many people know Beyonce only from her albums, world tours, cute Lil’ Miss Lady Blue Ivy and somewhat mysteriousness – the right hand. They do not know much of what she does in, for and about Africa. I am fascinated by what I discovered her left hand is up to.

I’m ok with what OkayAfrica referred to as the “Africanization of Beyonce” as long as we don’t see Beyoncification of Africa. Like the song says, Africa is a Grown Woman and she can do whatever she wants.

 

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*@afropolitaine*

#graphAfrica

Read This and READ!

afropolitaine reads

Since I just came back from Zimbabwe and am kind of back to regular scheduled programming there doesn’t seem to be much travel in my forecast right now (although you are all welcome to surprise me with a trip to somewhere sunny where all the food is cooked or drizzled with olive oil and the language is slightly foreign to me). Soooo what’s a girl to do?! Read books/material from around the world. After all, The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I’ve traveled quite a bit in my lifetime and lately, but I haven’t really been reading. These were all chosen because of a longing to be somewhere else and experience someone else’s life or to reconnect with a past I’ve lived or a future I want.

1. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

afropolitaine Americanah

I pretty much love everything Chimamanda! I have every single one of a her books and That Thing Around Your Neckwas even autographed when I went to her reading at the Shakespeare Theater in DC a few years back. I haven’t been able to put this book down so I highly recommend it to EVERYone. It’s like an amazing conversation and I find myself wanting to highlight, reread, type out, print and frame some of the sentences. If you’ve ever had one in real life, this book is made up of gems someone extremely intelligent and unaware of it says in casual conversations and you’re left in silent awe. I personally love people who are amazing and all kinds of fantastic, but don’t know it so this book does it for me. At so many points i’m reading and thinking WHO THE HELL ARE YOU CHIMAMANDA?! WHY ARE YOU IN MY LIFE and WHY IS IFEMELU ME?! I KNOW OBINZE! I KNOW THAT GIRRRRL/GUY! STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME CRY. WHAT IF I HAD DONE THAT TOO…I am all up in this book as you can tell 🙂

2. ZOMA – Addis Ababa’s best monthly lifestyle magazine

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My mom who knows my taste in reading and many other things very well so she brought me this magazine when she came to the states a few weeks back after attending the AU’s 50th Anniversary in Addis Ababa. She knows I love to read and write in different voices so great choice here. Haven’t gotten to it yet, but definitely curious to examine the quality and standards of editing, content, etc. Excited to add this to my collection of magazines either from my own travels or my moms and they are all always great quick reads. Will let you guys know how it goes.

3. We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo

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For all the popularity NoViolet has gained in the last few years, I still have not read any of her books so the other day as I was waiting for my salad to be ready at a little cafe, I decided to browse the outside sale table at the bookstore (Bridge Street Books) next door. I chose the book below and when I went inside to checkout We Need New Names was right in front of the register staring at me. I’ve read excerpts and reviews already (I wish I hadn’t) and look forward to the beginning of a great relationship with this writer. She is a fellow Zimbabwean after all 🙂

4. Madeline in London – Ludwig Bemelmans

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You guys promise not to laugh? I hope you understand when I tell you why I bought this book. My childhood years were spent in Zimbabwe and one of my favorite cartoons was Madeline – a little Parisian girl who went to a boarding school run by nuns and the [mis]adventures that happened to her because she was so small and outspoken. I internalized Madeline in so many ways and seeing this book on the sale table at Bright Street Books brought so many good emotions and heavy nostalgia flooding back. I BOUGHT THIS BOOK FOR  MY DAUGHTER. No I do not have one yet, but I do think about parts of my life i’d love to share and continue with my future children [along with things i’d like to be different] every once in a while. I want to share Madeline in all her awesomeness with my daughter one day. Of course I will read this myself, but ultimately I want to keep it for her. She will see the world through travel as well as books and no matter how small she is, inside she’ll be tall (theme song reference).

Hopefully I’ll add more to this list and you’ll be inspired to pick these or other books up yourself. I’m thinking I might even review these post reading 🙂
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*@afropolitaine*