A Rant

So writing this story has opened my eyes to many things. And if you commented on the excerpts I posted please don’t think that this is specifically about you. Some of my friends have also read drafts of my story and from other discussions I have had with other people some things have become apparent.

There are things that are common to all human beings: needs, wants, desires, behaviours even. Because we know this, there are assumptions that are made about all groups of humans wherever they may be, and we know these assumptions to be logical because time and time again, no matter where or how they are tested they have always proven to be true. Like all things in life there are exceptions, but those exceptions are almost always individual and varied.
Now these things might be generalisations, but they are true in the general sense and so it is not incorrect to say them. For instance, all humans need food, water, and sleep. This is truth. How much of it varies from human to human but the truth of it nevertheless remains unchanged. How is this related to my point? There are aspects of human behaviour that can generally always be expected no matter what civilization we are discussing. If it is true that these aspects are common to all human populations, why then does everyone, and Africans themselves in particular, find it so difficult to accept the humanity of our African ancestors????
I know that thanks to research with a family tree builder and access to my university’s vast library holdings I am no longer ignorant of the accomplishments of my fore bearers but what irks me is WHY I was even EVER ignorant of these things in the first place. Left to Nigerian education alone, we would know NOTHING of the lives of the people that gave rise to the current population of Nigeria. NOTHING WHATSOEVER. What is even more infuriating is that as I uncover each mundane aspect of their daily lives through arduous and meticulous research, I am met with shock, resistance, and outright denial by Nigerians and other Africans around me.
What am I talking about? I am talking about how fucked up it is that Africans find it so hard to believe that their ancestors were NORMAL PEOPLE. It is FUCKED UP that we are so unwilling to ascribe to them common humanity while we more than readily give it up to the ancestors of those of other races and nations. It is FUCKED UP that even the most mundane things that we not only take for granted but expect in the history of other peoples are lauded as astounding and marvelous accomplishments in respect to our African ancestors.
Let me explain myself more clearly. While I was in Manhattan over the summer I went to an indecent number of African fairs in Brooklyn. I am generally attracted to these fairs because I am addicted to all things related to African history, in particular Nigerian/Igbo/West African history. Before I begin, my only regret in telling this story is that I seem to have stepped on my memory card and broken it so I do not have the pictures I took to drum my point in further. At the fair, I discovered a number of extremely old items:
1. A war helmet made of hard leather, reinforced by cowries on the outside and lined with down on the inside for comfort. The helmet extended to cover the ears but left the face uncovered. On top of the helmet was a black feather plume.
2. A huge wooden cupboard/closet/wardrobe/cabinet in the shape of a kneeling human. Heavily decorated of course. The torso area formed the door which opened to reveal a number of shelves made out tightly woven hard matting.
3. A very long hair pin with a leopard, a chimpanzee or other monkey and a lion intricately cast in a complex pose.
4. A huge wooden bed in a completely unique design with a sunken depression for a mattress, beautifully carved platforms for pillows and in between, another depression for a headrest if the bed was being used by one.
5. A huge wood and metal bathtub (well that’s my only description for it) with a space underneath for a fire so that the person bathing can enjoy a hot bath.
6. Beautifully carved wood and gold round water bottles with covers (looked more like canteens) with delicate chain metal handles for carrying.
7. A number of beautiful miniature jewelry boxes with legs.
8. A number of ornate perfume bottles (wood, metal, and ivory) with legs.
My first thought when I happened upon these items (aside from obvious insane joy of course) was “Finally!! Proof that ancient Africans had wardrobes, did up their hair, slept in beds, took hot baths, had water bottles, wore and stored jewelry, and wore perfume!!”
I immediately felt ashamed. I would not have given even a first thought to these things if I had encountered them in a European or Asian historical movie. Yet like so many Nigerians and Africans, I needed definitive proof before I accepted that Africans 1000 years ago had the presence of mind to take hot baths. I had refused to give my ancestors their humanity and intelligence until they had ‘proven’ it to me by the artifacts that they left behind.
Now over and over again, when I discuss the research that I am doing for my story, particularly with my Igbo friends, they snort with laughter and incredulity when I mention things like Igbo people wearing trousers or sleeping in beds or having multiple story homes. They look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about street lights and theatre and bars and parties in relation to ancient Africa. They tell me ‘please, Africans live in tiny huts and run around with spears.’ I feel ashamed because I too once believed that.
What I am trying so hard (but rather unsuccessfully, I might add) to get across is that I believe that most modern day Africans do not view their ancestors as real people or even full human beings. Not only do we not know much about them, but there is generally no desire to know because it seems we generally assume that there is nothing to know about and that there is nothing in the ancient world that could compare to the world we know now.
I feel ashamed when we gush over simple things like mattresses or futons (no Leggy this is not a personal jab at you) or cupboards or hot tubs or heated seats and beds or paved streets or even storied buildings (ditto Myne Whitman). I feel ashamed that we have been so convinced of the inferiority of our ancestors that we abandon all logic and are determined to believe that someone who can afford better would continue to sleep on a bloody mat. Or that someone who could afford better would continue to maintain a floor of mud in their home even though the mere presence of a clumsy child in conjunction with liquid of any sort would quickly turn into a mess of epic proportions.
Or that someone who could afford better would continue to live in a tiny one roomed six foot high hovel in spite of the ready availabililty of all building materials rather than expanding it outwards and upwards. Or that someone who could afford better would continue taking cold baths at the stream in the depths of harmattan when hot water is easily within reach. Or that someone who knows that the night brings with it marauding predators, hell-bent spirits, and human criminals would not have the presence of mind to erect nighttime lighting in the streets for the benefit of all.
Or even worst of all, that we would ignore the simple human need for diversion, so much as to claim that Africans couldn’t possibly have had parties or gathered to watch entertaining plays or listen to and adore naturally blessed singers. That we would ignore the simple need of human men to congregate together away from women at a watering hole of some sort, preferrably with copious amounts of alcohol and otherwise unattached women that we would believe that they simply could not have had bars (for want of a better word) or parties, or prostitutes.
That we would refuse to see the basic humanity of our ancestors that we believe that they had no concept of love or beauty or even DAMN COLOUR COORDINATION, that we would firmly scoff at any suggestion that Africans might have been in love, taken lovers, gone to onerous lengths or undertaken epic journeys simply for the sake of love, that Africans might appreciate the beauty of flowers, might have planted gardens, had fish ponds, or even (gasp! shock ! horror!) worn clothes and accessories in colours that complemented each other.
No, the sad reality is that in the mind of most Africans, our ancestors were little better than brutes, running around a fire in a loin cloth with spears raised, screaming “Oooga Booga!”. People might not ever admit it in those terms, but watch what happens the next time you approach a random African, especially a Nigerian and suggest to them that four hundred years ago their ancestors wore high heels, and slept on soft cotton mattresses with bedsheets, pillows, and blankets, and not planks of wood, a pile of gravel, or hell even a pit of burning coals. They will scoff at you and think you crazy.
Yet, we readily accept that the ancestors of Caucasians, and Asians were sophisticated, refined, beautiful, strong, intelligent, and human. For all we know, China could have made up their entire damn 5000 years of continuous history that they are so proud of, but we accept it from them readily and without question. We immediately accept the multi-faceted humanity of THEIR ancestors, while OUR ancestors must fight tooth and nail for every scrap of dignity they wrestle from our cold dead claws.
Why do we believe these things? Because foreign historians and anthropologists and archaeologists told us so? Before 1880, most of Africa was unexplored and unknown to the outside world. All the archaeological work done in Africa hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of our vast and endless history.Most of the work has been concentrated in Egypt anyway because Egypt is the darling of the western world. We Africans haven’t even shown any interest in doing any archaeological work to find out about our past even in Benin which is the most OBVIOUS WAVING FLAG because we simply aren’t interested. We’ve been satisfied to believe that our history holds nothing of worth and as far as most Africans are concerned, they’re satisfied to go on believing that. Damn, even bloody Igbo Ukwu would NEVER have been discovered if that man hadn’t wanted to build a bore hole. We would rather worship and revere the ancestors of others while the glory of our own go untold in our own backyard.
I have wondered at this almost every day now, and every time I open a book and am about to feel amazement when confronted with a picture of an Igbo hunter wearing beautifully, carefully crafted sandals, I mentally slap myself. Why the hell should I be amazed that an Igbo man is wearing sandals when I take the footwear of 4th century Europeans as a given? My amazement is an insult to my ancestors because it shows that I did not believe them capable, intelligent, or even human enough to know that there are sharp objects in the ground that might puncture the foot if left unprotected.
It is one thing to appreciate the beauty of the past, but quite another to be patronizing. We patronize. We seriously do. We patronize our ancestors and I feel ashamed. Does this mean we should not drool over those gorgeous Yoruba boots? No, it does not. Those things are fucking gorgeous and they deserve all the drool in this world. What they do not deserve however is us expressing shock that they were able to accomplish simple things that are normal for other humans such as comfortable shelter, clothing, comfort, etc. in varying levels of luxury according to social stratification.
We’re not all perfect, and I am certainly as far from perfect as they come, but I say this because I believe that our ancestors are deserving of respect and we do them a disservice with our “surprise” at even the simplest things we discover about them. If these things are to be expected with Caucasian and Asian ancestors then why not with ours? Are the ancestors of Caucasians and Asians inherently better than ours? No they are not. Are they more intelligent? No. Are they more anything? No. So why then, are we so skeptical of anything that says that ancient Africans were just as human as their equally ancient counterparts in other parts of the world and given to the same proclivities?
Have we so little faith in those who came before us?

This region is in relation to the debate in the comments about whether or not ancient Africans (in general) and Igbos (in particular) could have built multi-story buildings:
This is an Mbari house. An Mbari house is basically an elaborate Igbo house constructed as a shrine to the Goddess Ani.
Observe, the following house has something resembling a small attic.

If the builder of this structure knew how to make that additional level it is not a stretch to conclude that the dude could have simply expanded it on a whim? Observe the obviously strong and solid pillars that look more than capable of supporting an additional floor.

Question: Why is it so hard to believe that Igbos who built the Nsude pyramids here could not build a simple set of stairs? Bloody hell, the damn pyramids LOOK LIKE STAIRS. Surely any builder with two brain cells to rub together would make the connection?
Further Further Update: Thanks to Gin for finding this historical sketch of an Igbo two-story building. I guess this puts a new spin on things, although I have also seen historical sketches of the Igbo areas with some pretty towering structures (must did into my external harddrive and see what I can find)
Further Update: (For Azazel’s Benefit):
Thank God I found this one at least. This small cupboard or whateveryouwanttocallit is Yoruba. The ones I had on my memory card were Igbo ones I personally took pictures of but since my memory card is destroyed, here’s a Yoruba one. And you can tell it is Yoruba. Compare the figure on top to most Ibeji figures as well as Gelede masks. Of course this specimen is much smaller than that wardrobe I found which was ginormous.




I honestly think we just aren’t comfortable with accepting our ancestors as intelligent, thinking beings. Otherwise we wouldn’t be doubting the ability of grown men to solve a problem as simple as building an additional story on a building and connecting the two.


There are 27 comments

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  1. Azazel

    I will tell u the truth sugarbelly..
    I myself do not have faith in the past history because well people who were able to kill twins based on superstitions offend my senses..
    How stupid could they possibly be? To think that killin twins, and living ppl in forests to die was a smart thing to do?
    Idk about any inventions that “Africans” did..
    Am not sure about the wardrobe part o, and hot baths.. I was of the opinion that we only bathe in the forest.. etc. Where did they get hot water from? From the firewood etc, wouldn’t that have considered it as waste?

  2. xoliquoricexo

    sugabelly, i feel your pain. it is incredibly disappointing that, until a few years ago, it didn’t even occur to me to place myself in a historical context. and it’s not entirely my fault, either. i was taught the basics in school – 1960, lord lugard, river niger, river benue, etc. – but next to nothing was made of what pre-colonial life (especially) was like, so i had nothing on which to base my imagination, and i stopped imagining altogether. (i also know entirely too little about our heroes and heroines.) in fact, i was startled when i found out there are african scholars (!!!) who have ACTUAL opinions on africa. and i’ve made it my business to stalk them, to beg them to mentor me, to read books, watch videos, form my own opinions. i’ve decided that i ABSOLUTELY MUST make studying african history a lifelong pursuit and i have to share my knowledge with as many people as i can. you already do that with this blog and the igbo academy…keep at it. the problems you’ve mentioned will only be alleviated if folks like you make it your business to spread the word that there’s more to us than we know.

    xo

  3. eccentricyoruba

    Sugabelly thank you for this! i really could not have said it better!! people like to think that it was only the Africans that were taken away from the continent that lost their history when that is obviously not the case.

    i feel your shame and honestly nowadays i only talk African history with people like you and Ladi. i really don’t have time for ignorance.

    and regarding Egypt, i even think the reason Westerners like it so much is because they can always say that ancient Egyptians were not black Africans. and you know most of our parents want us to study either medecine or law. they actively discourage us from studying subjects like history or art.

    the way i see it, things are bound to fail. i’m sorry i’m very pessimistic but in issues such as these i honestly do not see any hope for Africans. why on earth can we not even view our own ancestors as HUMAN?! it’s so f*cking mindblowing! and honestly i believe that until we learn our history it will be very difficult for us to move forward.

    Azazel, why is it so difficult to believe that ancient Africans had hot baths? if Sugabelly uploaded a pic would it be more believable? really, since when did upper class people care about waste? the way i see it, in this day and age we know there is proof of African bathtubs (i trust Sugabelly’s word). yes the pictures are not on this blog but that should not make it any less believable. if someone had several slaves that could go to the stream to fetch water and firewood for a hot bath when it is cold why should it be impossible?

    and regarding the wardrobe, where else would our ancestors have stored their clothes? i’ve watched historical European and Asian dramas and they ALL had wardrobes, chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture so why should it be any less believable that our African ancestors had the same?

    i believe the whole point of Sugabelly’s rant is to question accepted thinking. i don’t mean to be rude but your comment is an example of the problem Sugabelly was trying to address with her rant and is frankly why i remain pessimistic with regards to our African ‘enlightment’.

  4. leggy

    lol…when my sister had a paper on the benins, it was discovered that they actually bought and sold with the white men before the white men even came to colonize us, so if they bought and sold, they must have had something to offer.no?

  5. Myne Whitman

    I agree with the sense of your rant but let’s say I do not agree. The Igbo are disadvantaged by not having a common city. I come from a place with a long oral and written ancestry and can trace my lineage back at least 300 years. There is a lot of pride in my place for that and like I told you there are a lot of ancient artifacts found in my grandmothers old house so I’m not surprised at soem of the things you list. Neither would a lot of people from my place.

    But storied building? I’m a scientist. Show me archeological proof. I follow the history of the midwest closely and the Binis were the most advanced. Even the Oba did not have a storied building. Multi level inner spaces, bunk sleeping outcrops yes, but storied buildings? Show me the mula girls.

    Nice rant though, keep preaching.

  6. sugabelly

    @Myne Whitman: I was going to wait to respond to everyone, but seriously yo.

    There has been little to no archaeological work done in Nigeria except Igbo Ukwu so where do you want the archaeological proof to come from?

    Our history does NOT begin where the White man says it does or where the White man can prove it does.

    That’s like telling me to show you a written manuscript describing the feats of Omalinze when you very well know that most of Igbo history was passed down through oral tradition since writing was restricted to royalty, the elites, and the secret societies. It’s a roundabout way of dismissing the abilities of Africans simply because you don’t have any tangible proof and it’s wrong. Tell me, half the archaeological and anthropological shit Whites lay claim to, have you seen it with your own eyes?

    The truth is that most of us in this world take a lot of the accomplishments of other races for granted and accept them passively. If you don’t challenge the Caucasian assertion that they had silken curtains in the time of Alexander the Great even though we are yet to obtain the actual specimens of said curtains, why do you so readily challenge the ability of Igbos to build storied buildings?

    Or do you find it hard to believe that Igbos were capable of adding another floor to their buildings because you think they were somehow mentally challenged?

    The point is, building a second or third story is not hard. Period. Fuck, if you can build the first storey and you can’t figure out how to build the second storey and you go and put heads together and the millions of you over thousands of years still can’t figure it out then you must be fucking brain dead. It shouldn’t even be an issue. The point of my rant is that it is NOT an issue for people of any other race but once you say that Africans built a simple two storey house, everyone is out for blood looking for proof knowing full well that with the exception of Egypt there has been infinitesimally little archaeological work done in Africa.

    Benin was NOT the most advanced civilization in West Africa. It was simply one of many, comparable with its neighbours.

    And, people do not need one central city to develop. Igbo land had at least a couple of cities. The key component to the development of any civilization is the movement from hunting and gathering to fixed agriculture, which is how cities form. The LAYOUT of Benin city might have been slightly different, and its political system might have been more rigourously implemented, but that does not make it any better or more advanced than the surrounding Yoruba or Igbo civilizations.

  7. sugabelly

    Most of the artifacts from Nigeria are simply those that were carted away by the British when they arrived or during their Punitive Expedition. In other words, stuff that was already available. Very little digging has been done to unearth stuff from previous eras.

    As a scientist you should know I can’t whip out archaeological proof to show you if noone has bothered to dig it up in the first place. And why is noone bothering? Because noone fucking cares. Everyone is happy believing that Asians and Caucasians are great and Africans are the mentally retarded scum of the Earth.

    Since you are a scientist let us apply logic to this. How hard is it really to build a two story house? You know how to build the first story. You build the first story. You put a few strategic pillars in the first story to support the weight of the second floor and the people it’s going to carry. You reinforce the walls of the first story with pillars at the strategic points where the walls are going to bear weight and then you build the walls of the second story on top of the first story according to how you have laid out your support pillars. Then you make your roof supporting that as well. Then you cut a hole in the floor of the second story and either affix a very strong and sturdy ladder to connect both floors or you make an earthern staircase from the first floor to reach the second.

    Shi kenan. And I’m an International Business student. I never built a damn house in my life. I never even built one using Lego. Fuck, I didn’t even look this up on the Internet, it was all common sense.

    Can you logically tell me how justifiable it is to think that a group of people who are able to build scaffolding to support the collection of multiple kegs of palm wine from the tallest palm trees, build 12 – 30ft high masquerades, make delicate and impossibly intricately designed jewelry, carve ivory to perfection, make terrible and beautiful but accurate weapons, are unable to build a SIMPLE TWO STORY HOUSE????

    I don’t mean to be rude so please don’t take offense but do you see how ABSURD this idea is? Building houses is NOT HARD. Sure, it’s a lot harder these days because people want all sorts of things and now you have to make houses according to specifications so that they all come out cookie cutter and stuff, but frankly, if you wanted to build a nice two or three story home in the old world using mud, bamboo scaffolding, and timber supports, it really wasn’t that freaking hard. Sure, the actual physical work of building the house might be hard, but the mental energy used to think out how to accomplish it is minimal at most.

  8. sugabelly

    And by saying that Igbos could not have built multiple story houses you are also saying that Igbos did not have the brainpower necessary to accomplish this task. Because they sure as hell had the man power. And they sure as hell had the wood. And they sure as hell had the mud/clay.

    The only way a statement like that would be acceptable would be if Igbos lived in a completely unsuitable environment.

    For instance, I can say that I refuse to believe that Eskimos built multiple story homes. Why? Because they live in fucking Alaska or Antarctica or the North Pole and it’s nothing there but bloody ice and snow. I could say the same thing about the Tuaregs. Why? Not only were they nomadic, but they traveled over the damn Sahara Desert. A building of any considerable size would simply sink into the sand.

    Do you see where I am going with this? I understand your need to see tangible proof, but there is also a need for logical speculation in light of the fact that most of what you would take as “proof” is what is supplied to us by Caucasians who did not have a particularly vested interest in preserving our history for future African generations to come.

    The fact that you refuse to believe that Igbos or other Africans were able to accomplish such a simple, paltry, and completely unremarkable feat as building multiple story buildings suggests that you subconsciously find them deficient in some way. Because hey, let’s add up all the factors that contributes to story buildings.

    Suitable Land – Check
    Workforce – Check
    Building materials – Check
    Wood – Check
    Mud/clay – Check
    Thatch – Check
    Stone – Check
    Large family requiring more space – DEFINITELY check
    Physical ability – Check
    Mental ability – Hey, this is the last one. If we agree this factor was there then it means they built story buildings. Unless you disagree that they had the necessary mental faculties to build another story.

  9. sugabelly

    Essentially, just as I cannot prove (in your terms) that they did, you too cannot prove to me that they did not. So why should you, I, or anyone else choose to believe that they did not or could not except for an already prevailing inferior opinion of Africans?

  10. L-VII

    SB, what to even when the Naija government is complicit in all this. I recall being taught at school that Mungo Park discovered river Niger.

    I have had to teach myself most of what I know about Yoruba history.

    Do not be surprised that there are some Nigerians who do not to accept that we weren’t the mumbling jumbling simpletons that we have been painted as.

    Anyways, good work here.

    L.

  11. enigmaticone

    My dear sugabelly, as much as you have a point here, your approach as usual is too angry.

    What is your aim here? to educate or to chastise? If you want to share your ‘discoveries’, by all means go ahead and enlighten the masses. But why so angry?
    This should not be a competition between civilizations, it should be a promotion of our civilization and its beginnings and continuous growth. You have to admit yourself that our forbears allowed the whiteman tell their own history, why?
    Again i suppose the little we know is because they chose to tell the world on our behalf. If they hadn’t discovered oil, would we have known we were sitting on an oil field? (although personally i believe that discovery is as much a curse as it is a blessing).
    Our past and current leaders have devalued education and, our parents including yours have embraced the white mans education and their history.
    The fact that you can dig up these pictures and history is because the whiteman documented it.
    And Benin definitely has the richest cultural heritage in Nigeria and is still present till date – Benin City today is still ancient, as though it is stuck in the past. Modernism hasn’t totally altered its past and history.It is also well documented that some of the colonialists were in awe at the work of art in the Oba of Benin’s palace and were greatly taken aback by their advancement.
    The punitive expedition was as a result of the Benin Kingdoms refusal to trade with the greedy british colonialists and their refusal to be under the british colony. Oba Ovonramwen offered the most powerful resistance against the colonialists paying dearly with his life – his kind is the sort of leadership we seek today.

    Now the first story building in Nigeria, as we know it today is in Badagry. But if what you describe as a story building in ancient ibo land is the ladder connecting to upper floors, then you have to agree that it is different from what we understand a story building to be though the concept is the same. There is nothing wrong with the sprawls of mud huts in a large compound as described in Achebe’s things fall apart. The thatched roof and mud huts, and bamboo beds etc is part of our cultural heritage, it is the way they lived back then. I can assure you that if a story building existed the way you want us to believe it did, there will be picture evidence as shown in the Nsude pyramids with the oyibo woman pictured in front of it. And as mud huts and thatched roof still exists in the rural villages of Nigeria today, so would have been the case with those ‘story buildings’ today, should they have ever existed at all.

    I mean if historians and archeologists were as angry with the ‘ignorant’ masses as you are with ‘ignorant’ Nigerians, i doubt if you’d be writing this today.

    All in all keep up the good work, but with a bit of humility as not everyone is ‘dumb’, nor does everyone share your passion on ancient african history. Some people are just happy to move with the times, forgetting the past and looking to the future. To each his own.

  12. Gin

    I remember seeing Nigeria ‘tour guides’ on TV telling people about the “first story-bulding built in Nigeria” which was apparently by the British in Badagry in the late 19th century, then I saw this:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/19/Bight_of_Biafra_1841.jpg

    The quote by William Allen: King Bell’s house, Cameroons”; king sitting in front of his house being entertained by dancers. “King Bell’s house is very well built, with a raised story, surrounded by a verandah . . . .We . . . found [him] in front of his house, seated in a large arm-chair, with no other dress than an ample cotton cloth folded round the loins, and an English black beaver hat on. He was surrounded by a number of his people, who had devoted this cooler portion of the day to recreation. The principal performers were the Egbo men . . .

    The Egbo men are found all around what is now known as the ‘Southern Cameroon’s’ Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Abia State today.

  13. Obi-talker

    SUGA BELLY i LOVE YOU! …that said, you are one of the most intelligent young female bloggers I have come across. I learn from you when I come to your blog. How can people hate you, I dont understand it!!!!! I must confess I used to think you were a nut case but now I see the passion in you. Thanks for telling me stuff about my ancestors. This post you put up must have been alot of hard work but you wrote it and you put it out there. People should thank you and not fire you! Again excellent piece of writing. You should go pro.

  14. (im)perfect_black ☥☥☥

    @ sugabelly,

    great post!

    i will be stopping by much more often. i am african american and i do research in ghana.

    as a pan-africanist i must say to am encouraged by your “rant” (actually passion) for things african (generally) and igbo (specifically).

    the Ancestors are smiling.

    one,
    kzs

  15. N.Z.G

    Sugabelly, you are an IGBO WOMAN who HAS MY HEART.

    I love you … as in FULL ON HOMO:)

    You are extermely intelligent, passionate, and just vibrant. If only we had more like you. Actually, strike that. We have more like you but our SOCIETY (and i mean human society here not just the Nigerian/African one) KILLS the passion in our young/adult males and females.

    Keep SHOUTING … cos one day, those who refused to hear will wish they had only heard but also followed their own course of action).

    Ji si ike (… forgive my very bad Igbo writing skills. I will do better).

  16. histreasure

    it’s funny..i was just reading this post and was at the picture that has an attic when my hubby came in, i stood up to go pick something and in a rare move, he sat and started looking at the pics..

    then i heard him say..why not?

    i went..what?

    and he said, these pillars look sturdy, they could’ve easily added another storey using sufficient bamboo n mud as opposed to just the attic

    n i stil went..huh?

    i guess my point is, it’s very plausible.

    and my people(the efik/ibibios have a long history of hot baths esp when a woman has just given birth

  17. mellowyel

    @enigmaticone

    i think, in this case, a little righteous anger is in order, and totally justified. secondly, yes we owe the white man a lot, but that doesn’t mean we should ride on his dick for all eternity. i think the point of sugabelly’s rant is that we should not take on the colonizer’s view of Africa as being less developed than the western world simply because they say so. the absence of evidence does not mean that it did not exist. and we should not fall into the trap of believing everything the white man said simply because he said it. they are humans too, you know. as Africans are. we are perfectly capable of performing our own anthropological research. the problem is we’re not doing it, so we’re forced to fall back on the accounts of outsiders. but, who better to tell Africa’s history than Africans themselves? White historians and anthropologists aren’t up in arms about this because they’re getting paid to do their research, and become famous as “that white dude that knows a lot about Africa”. it gets them street cred, and that’s all they care about. they don’t give a fuck about whether Africans are doing their own work as long as they get to do theirs. if you ever encounter famous academics, you’ll find that a lot of them are self-aggrandizing, arrogant and selfish. truth. Africans are the only ones with a personal connection to the history they study. but we don’t fucking study it. and we can only blame ourselves.

    pardon the profanity, but i’m right up there with sugabelly waving my arms and stomping my feet about this. we all need to put more effort into learning our history and proving to the world that we are not a continent that is solely comprised of war and suffering.

  18. Mcrazy

    I love your rant.I think your “rant” is absolutely amazing. Although I did a little about Nok,Igbo Ikwu and Yoruba art forms in high school.It is true that things about our history is often portrayed the way it should in the educational system.It is not entirely because of the pervalent idea that the western world and thus their history is better than ours but also parents insisting on Engineering,Science and Business.My friends who took History in high school always used to discuss wonderful stories concerncing Hausa culture and other cultures and I remember being amazed by their discussion.This said History course was scraped when I was graduating from high school.It is really sad indeed all most Nigerian Students know about our culture is Colonialism.

  19. Mcrazy

    @Azazel your “point” leaves me feeling wounded because for your information.Infanticide is not particular to African Culture alone.Ancient Europeans and Asians sacrificed babies to appease Gods as well.In Ancient China there was even gendericid where female babies were killed.I cannot believe you think its only African that did things that were “barbaric”.The Romans thought there were spirits in the soil for carrying out loud and they bathed communaly yet they are lauded for having one of the greatest empires of ancient history.A lot of history has stuff that seems weird and out of place with our modern world.It is not purely an African thing.I mean the “west” that we are always shouting about their history is plagued with gender discrimination.Azazel please read a history book or take a history course one day it is a crime to display this sort of bad behaviour.I’m burnt.Kai!how can you say our ancestors were stupid??

  20. Gin

    That sketch isn’t of an Igbo house, it’s a house that was owned by a king (King Bell) in Douala, Cameroon. It’s a good example of a two story-building anyhow.

  21. Ezicat

    This was a lovely piece – I’m currently writing a series of sci-fi short stories on medieval Africa and doing my research. You’re absolutely right Sugabelly. Even the most obvious things like describing the living quarters, I research to confirm that yes, I can include and describe the bed. And yes, I can include and describe the wardrobe (which was a wooden box before I came across your posting. Sad, isn’t it)?

    • sugabelly

      It is really sad. I’d love to read your story when you publish it. Although I’m always wary when people say Africa. I wish people would specify and not keep referring to us as Africa.

  22. Ezicat

    I know what you mean. I too feel the same way. These anthology of short stories actually do cover the enter continent. Each one takes a folklore from a specific ethnicity and creates a story around it. The aim is to cover groups from north, through to south; east through to west. I can send you a piece once it gets published.

  23. nana

    @ sugar belly,I wud like to draw or attention to the 5th item you saw @d African fair. That bed is used “postnatally” wen a woman puts to bed. She is kept on dat bed with fire burning from beneath. The aim is to “heat her up” to remove d “bad blood” from pregnancy and help her recover from childbirth. In addition, she is given” kunun kanwa” gruel made with a lot of potash. It was a harmful traditional practice because the heat left them dehydrated, and with thermal burns sometimes. D high conc. Of pottasium in the gruel can cause cardiac arrest.


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