Djembe and the Importance it Holds to Ghanaian and African Culture

September 13th, 2012

The Djembe is a drum that has a rich history and importance towards Ghanaian and African culture.

But first of all, let us look at the Djembe through its physical attributes. The Djembe is a drum that is played with the bare hands. It is rope-tuned and skin covered. It has a shell (or a body if you will) that is carved out of hardwood and a drumhead that is made out of untreated goatskin. However, Djembe drums are not limited to these materials upon manufacturing. They can be made from a wide array of other ingredients for performers to play different sounds according to their liking.

The origin of the Djembe can be traced back to the Numu. They are associated with the Mandika people, specifically their class of blacksmiths. The Djembe drum’s wide dispersion throughout Africa may be the cause of the many migrations of the Numu. As such, the drums’ popularity became known throughout the continent. 

Although the origins of these bongo drums came from the Numu, there are no restrictions in using it. Such cause calls for rejoice as the Djembe drums are different from many, more restricted instruments that can be found in Africa. Therefore, just about anyone who is interested in playing it can do so.

Furthermore, due to the Numu’s many migrations, the Djembe African drums can now be played by Ghanaian people.

The Djembe drums are an integral part of Ghanaian, and most importantly the entire African culture. Playing with the African percussion instrument has a great purpose to affairs, festivals, and ceremonies. The rhythms created by the instrument are only to be played at a certain time and only for certain reasons.

For example, playing the African bongo drums can play a major role when a person rises into the age of adulthood. It can also take on a significant part on marriages or when there is an event wherein there is a need to honour the deeds by professions or other groups of people.

Unlike instruments that are played in an orchestra or in a band, playing the Djembe drums is not performed in front of an audience but with the participation of the entire village. This allows the people to participate in the event or the ceremony.

Now even if it would seem that the same rhythm can be played for hours and hours on end, there will be other interactions that take place along with the drumming. For instance, dancers from the village can challenge Djembe drummers to mark and keep up with their dance moves. There are even ballets and ensembles wherein these drums play a major role for the performance.

The Djembe drums are a very cultural musical instrument that is not limited to a small number of African locales. These drums can now also be seen in Western continents where they pay tribute to our African brothers and take part of their own ceremonies and affairs with the use of these African bongo drums.

Video on the Djembe Drum in African Culture – Click Here

Adinkra Symbols and Their Hidden Meaning

August 27th, 2012

Adinkra symbols can be traced back to their origins of the Asante people of Ghana, West Africa. Created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d’Ivorie (Ivory Coast), they developed these symbols based on history, philosophy and certain religious beliefs. Today they are widely used to give definitive meanings and messages through a wide range of different products, including jewellery, Adinkra cloths, clothing and even architecture.

The meaning of Ghanaian Adikra symbolism in African jewellery was portrayed through the Asante people in the 19th century, when they developed the unique art of Adinkra printing. Creating hand made cloths through a special process, these cloths were made exclusively for both spiritual leaders and royalty. As time has gone on, these African tribal symbols have been used for other special occasions, such as weddings, initiation rites, festivals and naming ceremonies.

The Asante have further developed the Adinkra symbology over time, with their own folk-tales and culture influencing the symbols created. Now incorporated into modern culture and designs, the meaning of Ghanaian Adikra symbolism in African jewellery and other items gives added significance to products, such as sculptures, african jewellery and clothing.

Traditionally they were hand printed of certain colours of hand-woven cotton, red, dark brown or black were the most common used. In modern times they have been frequently mass produced on a wide range of brighter coloured fabrics.

Some of the most commonly found Adinkra symbols include:

GYE NYAME – “except for God” – symbol of the supremacy of God

SANKOFA – “return and get it” – symbol of importance of learning from the past

FUNTUNFUNEFU- DENKYEMFUNEFU – “Siamese crocodiles” – symbol of democracy and unity

DENKYEM – “crocodile” – symbol of adaptability

DWENNIMMEN – “ram’s horns” – symbol of humility together with strength

Although, the Akindra symbols are now used by many other people, not just exclusively by religious leaders and royalty, the symbols themselves still have significant meanings to the people that use them. Both African jewellery for men and African jewellery for women exist, when worn they hold deep meanings and often have underlying philosophies behind them. African tribal jewellery has become more popular as time has gone on, now widely available, the symbols used can be traced right back to the history of African jewellery and the original Akindra symbols.

African tribal jewellery is available from a number of different stores, both online and in person. There are plenty of resources where you can research and learn about the different Adinkra symbols available in African jewellery, therefore allowing you to know which one is right for you. Go into your local store and talk to someone, or use one of the many search engines to discover more information. Before making a purchase, research which symbol matches your lifestyle, beliefs and personal philosophies.

Even though it has been many years since the symbols were first created, the meaning of Ghanaian Adinkra symbols in African Jewelry is still alive today and can be seen all over the world.

Video on the Adinkra Symbols in African Jewelry and Fashion – Click Here

The stories that the kente scarf and the meaning of the patterns have to tell

August 23rd, 2012

Kente cloth scarf was considered sacred in the past and only worn during royal occasions, but now it has spread worldwide and worn by everyone. Since the authentic African scarf is still expensive, only the rich people in Africa mostly wear it. The authentic pieces are weaved with pure silk and the rather economic ones are made of cotton. The cheapest kente clothes are the ones of rayon to make it more accessible to the general.

The history

The Ashanti kingdom of Ghana is believed to be the inventor of the Kente cloth. The archaeological evidences say that this happened in the early 17th century and the weaving tradition must have existed back even in the 11th century. The people of the Ashanti region are still the main manufactured of the cloth.

Symbolism of the colours present in a kente cloth scarf

  • The darkest colour black signifies maturity with spiritual energy.

  • The blue represents peace, love and harmony.

  • The green is for vegetation and harvesting growth.

  • The gold for royalty and glory

  • Grey symbolizes healing, as the colour is associated with ash.

  • Maroon is the colour of earth and linked to spiritual healing.

  • The female essence is the colour pink whereas purple represents the feminine aspects.

  • The red is for bloodshed and sacrifices.

  • Silver and white rejoice purity and joy.

  • Yellow denoted the royalty and fertility.

The kente scarf and the meaning of the patterns

As already mentioned, the Ashanti people of Ghana are the creators of the scarves and the symbols too, known as the Adinkra symbols. Hence, the scarves are referred to as the Adinkra cloths. The meanings derived from proverbs, beliefs, concepts etc., are used there even today. These not only form as an accessory but as a home decor too. Some symbols with their meanings are below:

Gye nyame signifies the dominance of the almighty and is the most beautiful symbol of the region. As unique as it is, it is a pure reflection of the religious character worshipped deeply the people. Adinkrahene is the chief of the adinkra symbols and signifies greatness, leadership and charisma. Hye Won Hye that literally means the one, which does not burn, is a symbol of endurance. This has derived from the stories where traditional priests used to walk on fire without burning their feet. Obi Nkye Obi Kwan Mu Si greatly implements the meaning that nobody is perfect in this world. Everyone makes mistakes and that they should be forgiven.

Asonawo Ahahamono Emaa Da represents one of the seven families of the Ashanti social league. Fathia Fata Nkrumah represents the unity of the African people. Here, Fathis was the charming Egyptian women who got married to Nkrumah, the president of the Republic of Ghana. Abusua Ye Dom celebrates the birth of newborn, the extended family and the well-being of others.

Adinkra clothes are not only attractive but the cultural reference is so interesting and important to the people. The representations of proverbs, stories, thoughts been beautifully expressed through the African scarf. Understandable or not, for the world unknown, it is definitely a magnificent creation.

Video on the Kente Scarf – Click Here


June 21st, 2012

Japanese rain chains have a long and colorful history. Originally used for temples in Japan, they are intended to create an attractive and pleasing architectural water feature out of something otherwise mundane. Available in a nearly infinite combination of styles and fashions, you will be able to find one that exactly fits in with your own home decoration styling.

In Japan, rain chains (kusari-toi or kusari-doi, which can be literally translated as “chain gutter”) are an integral part of most homes’ water management systems. Their purpose is to transport water from the roof of a structure, where it is picked up by a gutter system, to ground level or below, where it is then typically stored. The stored water can then be used for drinking, cooking, bathing, or any other household purpose after purification.

What makes them special is the variety of pleasing aesthetics they can bring to any home. You can replace your plain, unadorned gutters with beautifully crafted rain chains in any one of numerous designs. Just imagine how much nicer your home would look if you never had to deal with the hassle of cleaning or replacing your old gutters ever again, and instead had beautiful, functional art.

Not only are they a pleasure to look at visually, they are a treat for the ears as well! The soft, tinkling sounds of water as it passes down the chain increases to a soothing rush of sound reminiscent of a babbling brook when precipitation is heavy. Depending on the ornamentation of the chain you are interested in, bells and chimes may be incorporated as well, if you prefer a more musical tone.

Don’t forget the additional opportunity to be artistic at the base of every Japanese rain chain! Depending on where exactly the bottom is located, you can place anything from a decorative pot filled with stones, (as is common in Japan) to your own bowl or saucer. You can use this space to really express yourself and complete the artistic vision you have.

If space is more of a concern, you don’t need to dedicate a lot of square footage to being artistic. They drain equally well right into a hole in your deck or wherever you might want them to deposit the water. The fact that the water drips down the chain itself is the important factor in minimizing the damage it can cause to surrounding things like your landscaping. Carefully managed, none of this will be an issue.

It is easy to see why rain chains have been a popular option for decorative water management for such a long time. Not only are they clearly more pleasant to look at, listen to, and maintain, their increased functionality is a significant bonus also. With the variety of types available, from cup based models, to link based systems, to our completely customizable premium versions, you should look at what we have to offer and see if one of these wouldn’t help beautify your home.

New-fangled Doors

April 16th, 2012

When we decided to begin some home improvements, I figured I should probably do some research into what my options are for replacing the front door. The door that we have now is just an old wooden door and is certainly flawed in many ways. I am not really up on the latest door “innovations”, so I decided to head to the all powerful Internet and see what kinds of improvements have been made since my current door was installed (which I can only assume was 20-30 years ago).

Since the age of wooden doors, I did see that they now offer PVC doors which come at a much lower price point, but unfortunately share many of the pitfalls of a solid wooden door. What I found that was really of interest, was a new hybrid door called a composite door. Composite doors somehow managed to take all of the complaints someone might have had with the old standard doors and make the necessary improvements. They get their name “composite” from the fact that they are composed of mixed materials in order to get the benefits from each. They are often filled with a polyurethane foam for the insulation, something that has always been a problem with our solid wooden door.

I don’t quite understand how this works, but whatever the outside is made out of is supposed to protect against any warping, denting, decay, or paint chipping. Imagine having a door that you never needed to repaint! Oh the wonders of science! Because of the combination of materials like steel, wood, PVC, etc these doors are also especially secure, so you can feel safe that your family is protected against break-ins. This new-found knowledge has opened up so many “doors” (har, har, har!). It completely exceded my expectations for fixing some of my major qualms with our old door. Now I just need to decide on the color and style and all the rest of the really fun stuff and get to replacing our shabby old front door.

Personalize your Home with Address Plaques

April 15th, 2012

House plaques which are also known as address plaques are very important because they are a stylish means of letting your visitors, the delivery guy as well as emergency personnel reach you easily. Thus, besides adding a touch of elegance, they are functional. This means that a lot of caution must be taken when selecting your house plaque so that you get a slate that is beautifully designed to compliment your home. In fact, it is advisable to have your plaques designed as per your specification as this will give it a touch of uniqueness.

The process of choosing a house plaque is not just exciting but also fun because you will come across numerous designs before finding one that you deem suitable for your home. Remember, plaques, which are the first thing that a guess coming to your house will see, are also viewed as being an extension of who you are. It is therefore important to ensure that the house plaque that you choose is a true reflection of who you are even as you add that fancy look to your home. Most importantly, it should also be easy to read the house numbers and free from the effects of harsh weather conditions.

When it comes to choosing plaques you will need to first identify the type of address plaque that you want. This is because besides the wall plaques that are common, there are also other types of plaques that include the hanging plaques and lawn plaques. While the wall plaques are attached on the wall of your home, hanging plaques are usually attached to a pole from where they hang. On the other hand, the lawn plaques are placed in the yard where they stand out. The selection of any of these types of plaques is determined by the amount of space available. For instance, if you are a land owner and have sufficient space at the front of your home then you can comfortably display your house number using a lawn plaque.

If you are considering a wall plaque, then the size, color and even shape of your plaque is determined by the place you intend to place it. In most cases, vertical plaques are recommended when you are considering having the plaque next to your door. In terms of color, the plaque must be able to complement the surface so that it stands out. The other important consideration in the choice of the plaque is the material that is used. While most people would want to go for metal plaques, natural materials such as wood and stone are most preferred. This is because of they are more durable. Most of the metal plaques are not able to withstand harsh climatic conditions because the metal is recycled. Even then, the choice of materials remains a personal decision. You could also go for illuminated plaques, ceramic plaques or even personalized plaques. In summary, house plaques are a very important addition to your home as they ensure that your visitors as well as other important people are able to easily locate you.

High Quality Stainless Steel Tiles For Your Kitchen

March 13th, 2012

If you are building a professional kitchen, or simply want a kitchen which you can spend quite a bit of time in, then retrofitting it with stainless steel tile and products is highly recommended.

Most professional kitchens will use stainless steel in the construction of the entire kitchen, not simply the countertops but the appliances, backsplashes, hoods and walls. Stainless steel has a resistance to bacteria growth, in a study done by poultry science, an area of stainless steel treated in several different ways and then exposed to a microscope to read a bacteria count. They found that a stainless steel treated with an electropolished finish was the least susceptible to bacteria growth, finding that even after raw chicken had been on it, there was very little bacteria growth even a few hours later. This is however only with proper cleaning.

Outfitting a kitchen with stainless steel tiles, can drastically reduce the amount of bacterial build up within the kitchen area. In many cases with the extreme heat of a gas stove, it is important to use a durable material such as stainless steel, as the finish on some other cheaper tiles may wear and melt over time. Stainless steel is very durable and easy to clean. Using stainless steel tile in your kitchen can provide it with a very futuristic and clean look.

Tiles can also be used to make countertops, which is where the real bacterial build up is. Why not have peace of mind and make sure that you and your family is the most protected from kitchen born bacteria as you can be. Some countertop materials seem to just let bacteria sink in, and are very difficult to clean. Regular vinyl countertops also scratch quite easily and can start to look worn and come apart. With a stainless steel countertop made out of stainless steel tiles, it’s very durable, and can take an absolute beating. The countertop will remain functional and like new even decades later. Stainless steel tile countertops can add value to your home, and make your kitchen even closer to restaurant/commercial quality. The life expectancy of stainless steel products can be more than 100 years.

Some very simple ways to clean stainless steel involve just cleaning it with soap and water. This will cut down on your cleaning costs, because there is very little need for hard scrubbing and expensive cleaning products with a material that is this easy to clean. This could mean just with the amount of labor and cost of those expensive cleaning supplies purchased to clean other, hard to clean kitchen areas, that stainless steel tiles can and will eventually pay for themselves in the savings alone.

Stainless steel tiles are a great addition to any kitchen, they are built to last and can drastically improve the look of your home. Stainless steel should never be used with hash cleaning products like bleach or hydrochloric acid based products, which will save you money on your cleaning bill. Overall stainless steel is built to last and can improve your health and cleanliness in your kitchen by reducing bacteria growth.

Trust Home Depot or Lowe’s

March 3rd, 2012

My girlfriend and I recently decided to rent out the upstairs floor of our townhouse and live in the basement. In order to do this we would need a massive renovation for basement which was used as a living room. We would need to make a bathroom a small kitchen area and a separate bedroom in order to make it livable for us. Rather than hire a ton of contractors and drive the cost up we decided to DIY our basement.

This was going to be no easy task and would take careful shopping in order to make sure that our project came in at a reasonable price. As we began shopping around for building materials it seemed apparent that Home Depot and Lowe’s would be our go to stores. What we did find out however is that one was far superior in pricing their building materials then another.

Home Depot seemed to have far better sales and pricing on the majority of the items that we needed for our project and we were the only ones to notice the difference. Our local Home Depot always seem to be buzzing with activity words Lowe’s would remain stagnant. I can remember showing up just as Home Depot opened so that I would have access to a number of bathroom fixtures the day they went on sale. I actually managed to do the entire bathroom using the sales offers for about half of what it would cost me do it at Lowe’s.

We were the only ones to notice that Home Depot beats Lowe’s for pricing. Even with many housing related stocks and companies falling in the stock market and in the eyes of investors, I can remember hearing on the news that Home Depot was actually seeking a slight gain in the stock market despite the decline in housing investments. This shows that it’s not just a local issue in the battle of Home Depot versus Lowe’s, but that Home Depot truly is offering better pricing and therefore gaining the majority of the business in this market.

One especially helpful service that Home Depot offered was a reasonable van rental that allowed me to take some the larger items that I purchased like baseboards and drywall and easily load them into the back of the company van, for easy transport and removal. Lowe’s did offer a similar service but even it seemed to cost more money. I am quite amazed that comparable products and similar services seem to command more money at Lowe’s than Home Depot.

In the end our renovation was finished we had our renters moved in and were making the money back in no time. We are actually quite happy with how the basement turned out. All of the new additions make it a much nicer apartment than the upstairs unit. Looking back at the price list I’m so glad that we did the comparison shopping. I would recommend to anyone to look at the price difference between Lowe’s and Home Depot and see that Home Depot offers a far superior value.

A Guide To The Magic Wand For Your Kitchen

February 3rd, 2012

Scenario of the day: you are a living in Toronto, a stunningly beautiful house you just moved in a while ago. The kitchen wasn’t exactly the high of the house, but since there weren’t too many lows to curve the balance, here you are a few months later, figuring you need a plan to have that kitchen be a cozy place where you can barely wait to cook spectacular meals to enjoy with the rest of your troop. You will find Do-It-Yourself hints all over the internet, but what if you don’t actually have the proper time for any of those? You will be needing a contractor.

Toronto kitchen renovations, kitchen enlargements and any other home additions of the sort, whatever be the case, there is a list of what you should do to get the job done without the usual hassle. There are countless websites for renovations Toronto where you can post your project and wait for one of those natural born handymen to flag his readiness and redo your kitchen, but, truth to be told, you need someone licensed for this, because you can’t really risk money on beginners or timewasters. So what then? Always look for tradition, because it makes any company to live up to your expectations. There are companies that have many years of experience in this field, some are family businesses known for top quality renovation.

Another thing you might want to consider are the awards, they make a reference be the reference you want to use at the end of the day, because you get a feeling of certainty that those people will know what they’re dealing with. Now, a useful thing you might run across is having the entire process is described, from calling for a free appointment to the completion of the job, which is very useful to the untrained eye of whoever wants to redesign something in their house. Greater Toronto Contractors guides you through a fully detailed similar section.

Companies that are also members of various associations add more of the trust factor in your decision making. Focus one the ones that draw your attention by wearing a Renomark stamp (renovators mark of excellence) which runs the motto – renovate with confidence. What’s even more appealing about these is that some usually present bits of common knowledge online about renovating a kitchen, which gets you an enlightened perspective of the whole thing if you started all of this without a clue about specifications and whatnot.

Eventually, if you’re either looking for home additions Toronto or just a renovation of what’s already “cooking”, your kitchen can become your dream kitchen, as cliché as that sounds. Who doesn’t just want to get home and prepare the fastest snack in the universe in a welcoming space of his own choice or bake the cake of the week on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and serve it cold around a pleasantly designed kitchen island while the music conveniently crawls in?

If you’re planning on a great kitchen, plan a great planning first !

Jingle Bells, Jingle Down The Beach

January 14th, 2012

People living at latitudes away from the equator often get into temperature cravings. To be more precise, there’s a strong connection between people enduring long hard winters and daydreaming about Christmas by the sea, any kind of sea, really. It might even be a lake, or a river, as long as they are able to wear a swimsuit and lay in the sun with a cocktail nearby.

Don’t get the wrong idea, snowy winters do compensate for their low temperatures through fairy looking city streets, with snow weighing down the trees and billions of lights to shine the nights away. However, winter feels like survival when is not busy compensating. Feels like survival every time a simple walk to the supermarket turns into a challenging adventure, for which you have to multiply the clothing layers of what you’re wearing according to the blizzard severity they announce in top5 news on TV. When all your clothes weight more than your shopping bag, every step against the wind in your face (that feels like an acid experiment gone wrong) is one more step imagining hypotheses of you by the sea..

Question remains: what are the beach destinations available for high Celsius fun on Christmas holiday? Well, places of delight are the following: Kenya’s East Coast, the Fiji Islands, West Coast of Majorca, the Philippines, Rio de Janeiro and many more.

Pricing might be an issue since it’s the winter holidays we’re talking about. Better start saving months ahead of this to really get your hands on some affordable package. This way you won’t mess up with your credit balance. In Kenya, Diani Beach prices rise up to around 1,000 pounds per person, including flights from London and transfer taxes. Anyway, you won’t be thinking money once you’re walking down the beach with your toes sinking into the sand.

Furthermore, depending on the location you choose, while you leave some traditions at home, you wake up to new ones on arriving in warm places, on warm islands, with the warm customs of those places. People that have spent Christmas in the Philippines don’t talk about tree lights, but about bright lanterns, not about stockings filled with candy, but with mangos. While in Rio, people on the beach get to see a huge Christmas tree floating in a lagoon and the beat goes on.

Must be a piece of heaven to experience all of these, then go sunbathe some more, take up diving, or kite surfing, or simply swim along refreshing ocean waves, and then just chill around reading your favorite author in a comfy hammock while you still have the idea somewhere in the back of your mind that at that same time people at home open their presents inside their homes while there’s freezing hell unleashing outside and they have to put their boots on to go clean the snow in front of their houses, with red cheeks and cold hands.

Life’s too short not to getaway and have one Christmas by the sea waves !