Sunday, January 14, 2007

Africa on my mind...forever!

Antilope and Fries...Yum!

Time to go home...


It is difficult to leave this beautiful, peaceful and leisurely island. I will go back to the routine, the alarm clock, the long commute, the daily other world. Africa gets under the skin and becomes like an addiction that is difficult to ignore. It is the disease of most displaced Africans. When I am away from Her, I hear the distant drums and feel the pull no matter how much I integrate into American society.

Even though it is so very hard to live here, life here is a daily reminder that it is meant to be experienced to its fullest. Work is important but not all consuming, laughter is king, displays of affection are exuberantly shared, time is hardly acknowledged, family is first and personal accomplishments, dreams, ambitions, are just that...personal.

Bonko characters represent old trees which sway and dance in the wind.

Yankue is the name of the scariest bonko character because he represents evil. He is tethered by a chain to keep him "at bay". He also lights his head on fire and runs after the little kids...frightening! he is like the boogie man for many equatoguinean children.

These drummers play for hours. I think they themselves become hypnotized by the strong rhythms.

My mom (right) and auntie with their Onekind.

Many outfits, one fabric, Onekind

Bonko is a traditional dance of the Creoles in Equatorial Guinea. Around Christmas time they dance in the streets and make their rounds from house to house. They dance and sing about the local stories and gossip. The gossip is always very funny when it is about family members and neighbors but it is seldom funny when they dare to air one's dirty laundry!!
Kids get really scared of them because of the many scary legends about the Bonko (which represent live trees). The legends where used to keep small children from venturing into the dangerous jungle.. The dances include raw African drum rhythms with truly hypnotic cadences. The singing is done by the women who dress in traditional clothing of the same fabric which the call "Onekind". For every special celebration (weddings, new years, bonko, etc) the host picks a fabric in advance and all the guest buy this fabric and have outfits made from it. Actually, the women find any excuse to wear Onekind...visits from the president, graduations, etc.