Tag Archives: Words

Rhythm

Hands creating a rhythm on a djembe drum.

“Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm.” ― Babatunde Olatunji   The Integral Nature of West African Rhythm So synonymous is rhythm with life and movement, that many sub-Saharan languages, like Igbo, Efik, Hausa and Yoruba, do not have a distinct, disambiguating, …

Joking Relationships

Painting of African women speaking, babies on their backs and bundles on their heads. Scenes like this play out every day in the course of joking relationships.

In most cultures, it would be rude to openly mock a complete stranger, absolutely insulting to call them a slave, and downright criminal to waltz into their home and steal their television. Within the context of joking relationships — or “cousinage”, sinankunya in Mali, rakiré in Burkina Faso — these things can be perfectly acceptable …

The Power of Words

Painting of faces, some listening, some speaking.

The ‘word’ in West African cultures, once loosened from the lips as if drawing back the strings of a talisman pouch, diffuses a special force, the primal energy of creation itself. To speak is to exhale an active essence, Oro according to the Yoruba of Nigeria and Benin. For the Mande — ranging from coastal …