Happy Friday to ya!
I love the artwork of New York-based Ghanaian artist Dennis Owusu-Ansah. I get so excited whenever I see his artwork on my Instagram timeline. Especially when the artwork involves kente cloth because I adore kente cloth. I am obsessed with it. Be sure to check out my kente cloth Pinterest board because it’s lit! Anyways, to make it plain and simple, his artwork gives me life!
The Story Behind the Art
After witnessing my friend get teased by a group of men for wearing a kente cloth on our way to church, I figured something must be done to change the perspective of people who are not familiar with the African culture, he told CNN.They had no idea what my friend was wearing. One of the guys shouted ‘That man has a blanket wrapped around his body like it’s winter time.’ I saw this incident as an opportunity to educate people about who we are, and what we stand for through my art.Read more on CNN here.
Okay so first of all, that blanket remark sounds like something a New Yorker would say
sorry but not sorry. I can literally picture and hear the whole scenario in my head right now. That comment gives me Coming To America vibez. However, I can somewhat relate to his friend’s encounter.
I was never teased for wearing African clothing because I purposely chose not to wear it. I can count on one hand the number of times I wore African attire as a kid or teen. I was too embarrassed to be seen in it because I feared being teased. When I was growing up, being African wasn’t as trendy as it is now so I wanted to stay low. I remember refusing to walk with my mom into the mall when she went to pick up my birthday gift because she was wearing African clothes. I thought she looked too African for this very urban, black American mall. As a result, I stayed in the car as she picked up MY birthday gift. Terrible, I know. My mom was pissed and hurt that I was ashamed to walk with her because she was wearing her native attire. This was in the 9th grade and I was a few days shy of my 14th birthday. There was another similar incident but I was much younger so I kind of get a pass.
This incident happened in the fourth grade so I was about 8 or 9 years old. I was on my way to perform with an instrument ensemble I was a member of. The two other girls in the group were also Ghanaian-American so our ensemble director (who was Ghanaian) had us wear matching African attire. I liked our matching outfits and I felt pretty. We looked beautiful. I wish I had pictures from that day. Despite feeling cute, I did NOT want my peers to see me. I managed to leave my house that day without being spotted by any neighborhood kids playing outside. However, my worst fear happened when we stopped for happy meals at the nearby McDonald’s before heading to the musical event. That’s when I spotted my classmate Nancy Garcia through the glass door and I literally froze. I did not want to enter the McDonald’s but it was too late and I had nowhere to hide. She loved my outfit and kept telling me that I looked really pretty in it. I felt relieved but I didn’t want her to mention it at school the next day.
I recount these experiences to say that African shaming is real hence why I didn’t want to be seen in African attire. I commend Dennis for turning those ignorant comments his friend received into a positive platform that raises African cultural awareness. In today’s tech age, social media postings go viral within seconds and he is a genius for using celebrities as his creative influences to relay the message of African pride. Dennis, YOU THE REAL MVP! I salute you brotha.
My FAVORITE !!!!!
This picture is pure perfection! First Lady O’s dress reminds me of one of my sister’s kente dresses, see here. Anyways, out of all his work, this is MY FAVORITE!!!! I’ve always envisioned First Lady O in a beautiful traditional kente outfit. Especially, when the First Family visited Ghana in 2009 (see here). I just KNEW she would be gifted some extravagant kente cloth that she would then make a gown out of to wear to dinner with Ghana’s president and first lady. Well it didn’t happen..lol Oh well a girl can dream right? This artwork helps fulfill that longtime wish of mines to see FLOTUS Michelle Obama decked out in kente!
Thank you for reading.
Have a blessed weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!