Meaning, memories are stitched into South African beadworks

Twenty years ago on a sugar plantation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Bev Gibson and Ntombephi “Induna” Ntobela founded a collective called Ubuhle (pronounced uh-boo-klay), which means “beauty” in the languages of the local Zulu and Xhosa peoples. The women of Ubuhle live and work together, raising their children and crafting large, often searingly personal beaded textiles called ndwangos — in English, “cloths,” or “rags.”

Tiny ostrich eggshell beads that tell the story of Africa’s past

Ornament production really took off about 50,000 years ago, when we see the earliest standardised jewelry in the form of small disc beads made from ostrich eggshells. In Africa, ostrich eggshell beads are one of the most common types of archaeological artifacts, particularly from sites dated to the last 10,000 years. They are also found in smaller numbers throughout Asia where 12,000-year-old ostrich eggshell beads have been discovered in China.

2019 DanceAfrica DC. Elders and youth gather to celebrate the African Diaspora through dance

It’s truly magical to watch a person get pulled into a moment of gazing at a simple trinket or fabric that inspires them– awakening an African sensibility or story waiting to be told. A family affair, there at the festival little ones are dressed in their African attire toddling around freely taken into the atmosphere of family and fun. As it is in Africa, their parents don’t need to be nearby because everyone looks out for each other, a whole tribe of people that know you by name or by face can equally show you love, correct you and keep you safe.

Lorcan O’Herlihy renovates Detroit’s African Bead Museum

The museum comprises three townhouses and a 6,000-square-foot backyard sculpture garden that together stretch across almost a whole city block. Founder, owner, artist, and self-styled visual storyteller Olayami Dabls uses rocks, mirrors, wood, and iron to create sculptures that are parables for the development of African and African-American history and culture. According to its website, Dabls created the museum to help visitors better understand the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement through his sculptures and his collection of African objects.

Can one artist summarize the whole world? Nope, but it’s fun to see Rina Banerjee try

“Viola, from New Orleans-ah, an African Woman, was the 19th century’s rescue worker, a global business goods raker, combed, tilled the land of Commerce, giving America a certain extra extra excess culture, to cultivate it, making home for aliens not registered, made business of the finer, finer, had occupations, darning thread not leisure with reason and with luster, in ‘peek-a-boo’ racial disguises …”

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