This Time For Africa
Running across Hemingway’s words I couldn’t but wish I started my Monday morning nowhere else but in Africa. But since I do not have the power to fly over miles and miles while still under the effect of sleep, when opening my eyes I managed to discover that the place where I was most certainly did not happen to be Africa. Do I need to go back to sleep and hope the next time I would wake up it would be somewhere on African lands? It may be an alternative, but as I do not wish to end up soaking my Monday in disappointment I decided to this time write about the magnificent “Dark Continent”, a continent portrayed by many in their works and paintings, either by means of words or by means of color.And there happens to be plenty of color there! Much like Clint Eastwood said in “The Bridges of Madison County” when speaking about Africa “I guess I’d have to say that the most exciting place I’ve ever been to is Africa. Because it’s another world there. It’s not just the cultures and the people. That’s great…but it’s the air…the colors from dawn to dusk, and there is something tangible about the whole thing. The cohabitation of man and beast, and beast and beast-who’ll survive and who won’t. There’s no judgment about it either you know. There is no imposed morality. It’s just the way it is. It is just beautiful really. There’s nothing like it. It’s a voyeur’s paradise.”
I would say that Africa happens to be a paradise of colors if taking a look in the tribal yard and envisaging the multitude of colors being displayed rather magnificently there! It suffices to just look at the clothes they wear, at women’s jewelry and notice the sometimes ferocious looking, sometimes clownish facial painting… yet, assuredly this face painting gets to be nevertheless an artistic expression…at least this is how we tend to envisage it. Even so, there happen to be other hidden reasons behind all that paint covering the body and the face. People belonging to a certain tribe may wish to paint their faces before going to hunt, this being part of some ritual they may or not wish to share with us or they may equally well wish to do this before the start of a battle most probably to scare the enemy away. Yet…the make-up of their faces provides these people a certain charm, a charm that can be noticed by any watcher or passer-by.
It looks to me that it all pretty much takes the shape of the song entitled Oloololo, a song written by Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley. And just in case you happen to feel the need of some translation, I did manage to find out that oloololo means “zig-zag” making reference to “roads or trails”. So, zig-zagging through the wide palette of African tribes we may as well end up singing something that may sound just like this: “Lala Salama (sleep peacefully) / To the Masai Mara / And asante sana (thank you very much) / Kichwa Tembo (Elephant’s head)/ I’m going Oloololo / Back to the world where I’m from / Soon I’ll be flying solo / On a heading that follows the sun / Oloololo, Oloololo, ‘loololo / ‘Cause I’ve been down from Nairobi / Southeast of Kisumu / To the waiting savanna / Like the place that I once knew / And the river was flowing / While the crocodile baked in the sun / With the elephant knowing / That a change had already begun / Oloololo, Oloololo, ‘loololo / Oloololo, Oloololo.”And since as you could all well see the ”oloololo” covers the territory of Masai Mara as well there is no way I could avoid mentioning one of Africa’s most famous tribes namely the Masai. You’ve most probably been introduced to them by now by means of movies or books. Famous for their ‘jumping dances’, their songs as well as through their colorful clothing and their jewelry these people cannot but charm us with their presence and culture.
Somewhere along the border of Kenya and Tanzania there resides this tribe, a tribe which despite the quite flooding modern influences has literally managed to remain on position, clinging onto their traditions and choosing to live like their ancestors did and not abide by any modern rules. I guess that by choosing to visit their lands you get to be introduced to what many call tribal tourism, getting the chance to explore the fascinating features defining a style of life completely different from ours. And since Africa knows its own unique tribal cultures, this gets to be your destination and mine for today…
Reaching Maasai lands you may have the chance to watch these vividly colored people dwelling in huts displaying not a so much intricate architecture, yet nevertheless interesting, an architecture that makes use of such weird materials such as cattle dung and mud. Though primitive to many, their style life of life keeps fascinating many of those traveling their territory.
The journey into the world of African tribes may further on take us towards the lands of Sudan, bringing in the name of the Shilluk tribe. You’d be surprised to discover at this tribe a quite multifaceted organization of their society. You’d be able to meet there a king and all the more even a kingdom. There also happens to be an economy as well even though not one based on multi-nationals but rather one based on “flocks of goat, sheep and cattle.” There may be no tall buildings there or traffic jams but this doesn’t equal with the lack of beauty…And what a beautiful culture, I dare say!
And just in case this tribe didn’t convince you, you may equally well try it with the members of the so called Tuareg tribe. If you happen to have a fascination for nuances of blue then the people belonging to this tribe would certainly make you wish you could take one of them home with you. I seriously doubt he would easily surrender to your wish, yet they may allow you get a deeper look at what gets to define their life. These “blue men of the desert” as they are called, being tracked down on basis of their “attire of indigo robes and turbans” most certainly manage to attract one’s attention and perhaps wish to borrow an element from their clothing.
Either with blue turbans or without them and with their bodies partly covered by some fabric, colorful or colorless as this one may happen to be, with painted bodies and faces or bare of all this painting, the members of the African tribes never cease to enchant us with their unique way of making each and every day of their life look the same to them, yet special to us by means of its many intriguingly new elements to us.
These things being said I cannot but end it all by quoting a quite popular song that gets to be included in the repertoire of Shakira, namely the song entitled “Waka waka”: “You’re a good soldier / Choosing your battles / Pick yourself up / And dust yourself off / And back in the saddle / You’re on the frontline / Everyone’s watching / You know it’s serious / We’re getting closer / This isn’t over / The pressure is on / You feel it / But you’ve got it all / Believe it / When you fall get up / Oh oh… / And if you fall get up / oh oh… / Tsamina mina / Zangalewa / Cuz this is Africa / Tsamina mina eh eh / Waka waka eh eh / Tsamina mina zagalewa / Anawa aa / This time for Africa / Listen to your god / This time is our motto / Your time to shine / Don’t wait in line / Y vamos por Todo / […]This time for Africa!”