Culture: Music and P-Square in Nigeria

Nigeria…what do I know about it? Well, beyond geography (Nigeria belongs to the top 10 biggest countries in Africa in terms of population, land area, economy, etc.), as a young girl in Congo, Nigeria was synonymous to dramatic movies. In fact, Nollywood was already making its wave back in Kinshasa and the Nigerian movies were popular for both the drama, quality of images and the graphical depiction of trauma, spiritism and death.  No, I was not fond of Nollywood movies, though the Scarlet Woman may have changed my disposition a little bit…but I digress 🙂 Years went by, and Nigeria became the country with fraudulent emails and money schemes.  Then, came the Ebola outbreak.

However, Nigeria has much more to offer than my lack of understanding of Nollywood (which, by the way, ranks as the third largest film industry in the world per Wikipedia).  One has to admit that the quality of images and screenplay far outshine most movies produced by other Africans.  Also, the country is richer than the preconception resulting from the email blasts or the craziness around the terrible disease. In fact, I admire the resilience of its people, which transcends in their international presence in fashion, music and entertainment. You can just look at the number of Nigerian designers who have made my weekly African Designer list, or the popularity of the Gele and Yoruba weddings (you should check Nigerian Wedding on Instagram, simply beautiful!)

Today, I would like to focus on a small part of Nigerian music (checkout yet another good Wikipedia write-up). I am fond of the group P-Square but do not know much about Nigerian music history so I browsed the web and came up with the following insight into Nigerian music:

  • As expected, Nigerian music is diverse but mainly revolving around influences from three main cultural groups: Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo
  • The Hausa influence is present in use of percussion instruments (goje, tambura drum, kakaki and talking drum per AllAfrica). They also have arabic influence (muslim connection). Listen to one traditional Hausa song here.
  • The Igbo music has been influenced by other cultures (including guitar instrumental tune from Congo-Zaire!). You can listen to this song by Prince Nico for his mother here. The tunes are very close to Congolese music of 1960’s-1970’s.
  • Yoruba music is the most widely known today (per different claims).  It’s a mix of Igbo style with Western tunes (Hip Hop), Jamaican reggae and jazz. allAfrica lists 2Face Idibia in this category (I love African Queen…)

As far as P-Square is concerned, Wikipedia makes available a good article on the twin brothers and their evolution leading to P-Square. I will not call myself a fan as I still have a lot to learn about them but I love four songs so far: Beautiful Onyinye, Ogadigide, Forever and No One Like You.

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The reason is that the rhythm is so similar to the good Congolese rumba.  The language is different, but I almost can hear bits of Koffi and Fally Ipupa in Beautiful Onyinye…or Franco’s beat in Ogadigide…Anyway, join me and listen to their songs, and maybe dance along as well…

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Any favorite Nigerian artist? Please share!

Images courtesy of google.com search.

A&F: Deola and CLAN Spring Summer 2015 @ NYFW

As a start to the NYFW series, this week’s African designer is Deola and her sister shop CLAN. As a note, all images on this posts are courtesy of Frazer Harrison/Getty Images via StyleVitae.

Deola Sagoe / Clan - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015

Sissi’s African Designer File – 19 Septembre 2014


The BrandDeola and CLAN

The IT Factor: Both brands use African styling and material with a modern/Western-like approach to the prints and styling.  The CLAN is more catered to the younger women (and designed and managed by Deola’s four daughters).

The Inspiration: According to Deola, the motto is to “To enable our customers to reveal through our design, their unique, albeit inexplicable, `Je ne sais quoi ‘ …Which is always a joy to behold”

The Designer Behind the Brand: Deola Sagoe, along with her daughters, Teni, Tiwa, and Abah Sagoe.  Deola’s biography available on her website.  I was surprised to learn that she’s been in the fashion business for 25 years now, but I should have paid more attention at my original post on Lanre Da Silva as Deola was listed as a similar big name…I have so much to learn about all designers in the African continent!

Country of origin: Nigeria

Notable Awards: I could not find much as of this writte-up but will keep on looking for future posts.

WebsiteDeola and CLAN

Sissi’s Notes: The CLAN collection at NYFW last week was interesting, check out the video here.  I was impressed by the Deola’s line more, the accentuated scallop for hips and hems; the clever lace, the fitted bodice, the old-school scalloped neckline (reminiscent of an old Wax top from my mom), the darker prints, the accentuated hip line…I could definitely see myself in the selections below.  Hope you enjoy them.  Her website lists a few stores if interested.

Deola Sagoe / Clan - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015

The top of this dress reminds me of the old-styling in Congo in the 1990’s era.  My mom used to love those back then.  Even today, the styling is still considered old generation, so am glad to see a modern twist.

Deola Sagoe / Clan - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015

This dress talks to me in so many level….is it the gently subdued but vibrant navy geometric print (is this Java material I wonder?), or the pronounced waist with a simple belt? Maybe the feminine draping at the waist, or the scallop-like thigh slit, or the clever cleavage line? I cannot decide but I am definitely responding 🙂

Deola Sagoe / Clan - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015

 

This last dress is also a stunner.  Very subdued colors, but the shape lets your body do all the talking.  The exposed shoulders and overflowing drape and the waistline all make for a classic look. Love it!  Which of the Deola and CLAN looks do you like best? Do share!

Culture: The head scarf

Most people believe all African women wear headscarves. In fact, I remember a girl looking down on me because I said I did not wear it. It was a funny moment and I tried hard not to laugh but there I was being taught how to dress African by a girl who had only heard of Africa from books and the few friends she knew. However, the fact is she did not know so how could I get upset? Maybe she genuinely felt compelled to help me appreciate what she believed to be a quintessential part of grooming in my culture.

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And in some African countries, the headscarf is indeed a staple in women’s clothing. However, Africa is a very diverse continent, not all of its inhabitants share the same traditions or preferences. In fact, even the city in which I was born has very distinct grooming rules based on the tribe one is from, and the personal choices one makes.

Will I ever wear a headscarf? Absolutely, in fact I have in the past because it looked amazing on some models from Nigeria. Is it mandatory in the culture I was raised in to wear one? No. As a matter of fact, in the Kinshasa I grew up in, young and single women usually did not wear headscarves. They could but usually did not. Typically, only married women choose to wear them.

Updated. Now, I assigned myself a small project to understand the origins of the headscarf and the different styling options. Here are my findings:

  • The headscarf originated as a protection against natural elements (read wind, sun and dust) for women’s hair
  • It then migrated as a protection against evil spirits as a woman’s head was believed to be the superior part of her body and the entrance to her soul ( 😦 there had to be some spiritism somewhere)
  • The style evolved once again into a means of seduction that married women used to accentuate their face and, per Beaute-Ebene, ‘arouse their husbands’ pride’. I would agree with this explanation as it is in harmony to what I was told as a young child in Kinshasa.
  • In Kinshasa, young and unwed women only wear headscarf to cover unruly hair or to make a fashion statement; no as a cultural fashion staple
  • It seems that the first painting of Black slave women wearing headscarves was made in 1707 by Dirk Valkenburg (the painting is called “Slave Play” and you can see a picture below

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source: smk.dk

  • The headscarf may be traced even further in the past with Ancient Egypt where kings, queens (famous Nefertiti headscarf) and false gods used it depending on their function and gender
  • In Islam, the headscarf is used for religious purposes
  • There are a variety of styles, GirlMeetsWorld proposes 36 ways to tie an African scarf, image below:

36ways_scarf

  • One quintessential headscarf that must be paired with the Nigerian Buba (traditional Yoruba outfit) is the Gele (or Aso-Oke), the only scarf I have tried to tie and would like to get right! There is a detailed post on the style at Savoir Et Partage.  Basically, the Gele is worn in Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Ghana (Yoruba people of Western Africa).  What I love about this scarf is that it indicates the status of the woman wearing it.  Indeed, when the end of the scarf is pointing right, the woman is married and should be left alone. When it is pointing left, she is free and available.  How ingenious is that! 🙂

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Picture courtesy of Obonheur

If you are interested in some tutorials for African headscarf styling, some options below! Please share your pictures when you try them on your own!

  1. MoAm tutorial
  2. Side tie
  3. Nigerian Gele (Nma, please chime in if this is accurate!)

Afrique & Fashion: Duro Owulu

The designer spotlight this week is on Duro Owolu.

He was born in Nigerian but is based in London.  Duro came into the fashion spotlight in London in 2004 and is famous for his bold use of bright African prints and tailoring of the 70’s.  Apparently, according to NY MAG, Duro became famous in 2005 for the “Duro”, a high-waisted patchwork boho dress that gathered attention from Vogue and Barney’s.

I got to look at his Fall 2014 collection and loved the richness of colors.  Interestingly, Duro also had a line with JC Penney but it is not available anymore (link).

Four main items from his Fall 2014 collection receive five stars from Ebelandi, see below.  I particularly love the skirt with leather belt at waist and the richness of the blue and red dress.  You can checkout his full line at Owulu’s homepage. Let me know what your thoughts are!

Olowu_fall14_2 Olowu_fall14_1 Olowu_fall14_4

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Photo courtesy of NY Mag