Last week I posted African infusion and talked about how I enjoy mixing African fashion and cultures with hip hop fashion and culture. African garb was once prevaleny in hip hop culture where has it gone? Well in this blog post you can see a little bit more of the outfit I wore that weekend, but mainly you get a chance to see some of the jewelry and what it means to me. I have several necklaces but I decided to share, one of my ankhs, also known as the breath of life, and a small silhouette of Africa. The hat on the bottom is made of kente cloth and is called a kufi. Those are the few basic pieces but there are three pieces that I would like to talk about in depth.
I acquired all of these pieces at various African stores throughout the United States, however if you are looking for a great place to start your own collection, try Body and Soul in downtown Winston Salem! The owners are awesome! I have sat in there for hours talking to the owner’s father who curates the African art gallery in the back. Their store is filled with African jewelry, garb, art, and books! I definitely recommend stopping by!
The first item I wanted to point out was my brass bangles, some have more meanings than others and some have no meaning at all; they are just pretty. However, there are two that have a rather important significance that I chose not to forget. They are embellished with Adinkra symbols, small visuals representing basic and general truths. They are typically found on cloth and the different symbols together combined with their many meanings tell a story.
The cuff has a large symbol on the front which is called “GYE NWAME” and translates into “except God,” meaning the supremacy of God and symbolizes the all-knowing power of God. It is said that if you look closely at the symbol it is supposed to be a person inside of a hand, representing a picture of how we are held in the hand of God. (I don't see it. . . I'ma be honest but I love what it means lol)
The smaller bangle has a Sankofa symbol on it. Now this one is my personal favorite and it holds a special place in my heart. Sankofa translates to mean “Reach back and get it.” There is more than one Adrinkra symbol for the aphorism Sankofa but I personally like this one the best. It is a visual of a bird reaching back to grab a egg off of its tail. The egg is where the bird came from and it is a part of its history. The symbol basically means make sure you reach back and learn from your past so that you do not repeat it today, and you understand why and how we came to where we are today. In these current times Sankofa is a term that all African Americans need to remember.
Lastly, is this women’s mud cloth crown hat, similar to the crowns and Zulu hats Queen Latifah used to wear when she first graced the rap scene. The hat definitely has a regal air and should be worn as such, but I haven’t figured out exactly how to wear it, maybe a suit like the Queen. It’s insane to see that there once was a time where African culture HEAVILY influenced hip hop, but the drastic change has not only influenced music but the fashion sense. Rappers in the 80s and 90s embraced African culture, garb, and spoke positively about our people. Wonder what happened? Why do you think African culture has left hip hop and fashion, when it was once so prevalent?