I am celebrating African Heritage Month (September) with a collage of personal memories; faces, places, events I’ve seen over the many years I’ve been embracing my African roots and learning about the Continent.
I first went to Africa as a student in 1984 and from then on I was captured by its magic. Looking at the photos from many scrap books was a trip down memory lane. Many of them made me smile or even surprised me at how adventurous I was and in some ways what an exciting life it has been.
Africa has a very young population and I was often struck by the children as they played, helped their parents (the girl is holding the strips for weaving outside a gallery in Burkina Faso), or gazed in curiosity as I stepped out of a vehicle in a Dogon village arranged by my friend Oumar Cisse (Farafinatinge.com). There is also the Eritrean girl relaxing with her family in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. We became close friends with the family and had memorable times together.
There is great variation in landscape, weather and people on the Continent. For many of us, it is the heat that defines Africa. Much to my dismay, I discovered Ethiopia can be bitingly cold in the rainy season and South Africa has a real winter in the months we are having summer. There’s Musio Tunya (one of the wonders of the world) with its great waterfall straddling Zambia and Zimbabwe and there is the searing heat of the desert. The picture with the long ladder is a Dogon village which continues many of the traditional ceremonies of the ancestors. It is truly dry and though I had seen photos, I was not prepared for the reality of it.
A few of the pictures are related to artists and African art that I love so much. The artist standing to the left is Djibril Ndiay at the Village des Artes, just outside of Dakar. I sold his art in Zawadi and he was always welcoming when I visited (He has since passed – RIP). The center picture, shown at one of the Dak’art events, is a Pan African tableau which includes Miles Davis and Angela Davis. It is so beautiful and so representative of the Diaspora (unfortunately I did not write the artist’s name).
There is also homage to the traditional art as well as the pageantry of royalty. I regret that this year, I couldn’t attend Dak’art art because of Covid but its good to have these memories and to look forward to making more.