Artist, Scholar, & Educator
I am a Ghanaian American scholar and artist who writes poetry and teaches contemporary and traditional West African dance. A 2018 & 2015 BRIO (Bronx Recognizes its Own) recipient, I write about the challenges of the African immigrant in the United States, exploring themes of transition, citizenship, and identity. My work can be seen or is forthcoming in FOLIO, TAB, The Seventh Wave, PUBLIC POOL, Vinyl, Maine Review, joINT, Frontier elsewhere &
19th Century Black Woman's Body : Literature & History
Although there is a lot of research and historical context of how the black woman was treated pre and post Civil War, many historians have not looked at how black women specifically represented their body images, whether in art, literature, advertisement, etc. as a way of celebrating self-love or love for their bodies. Because many historians have been interested with the “negatives” of their enslavement, few of them stop to consider ways in which these women rejoiced in the simplicity of their existence, despite their suffering. What exists is work that shows how black women resisted their enslavement through art pieces, songs or fighting back their masters; but we have not looked at simple ways in which black women celebrated their bodies in the early 19th century. The difficulty in finding such work maybe from the existence of few historical records revealing the worth of these women as humans by their owners.Hardly will a plantation owner study a black woman beyond the children she can produce or how hard she can work. The narrative often told looks simply at the capitalist and monetary values of the black women’s body and this is likely because it reflects the reality of their existence.
Adinkra Symbols: The Language of our Skin
Up until now, many scholars have identified the Adinkra symbols and their uses by the Akan people. What many scholars have ignored, however, is the urgency for many of these descendants of Akans (Africans and African Americans) to use the Adinkra symbols and cloth, both as language and aesthetic art form, as a way to connect and bridge cultural gaps. Thus, very few researchers have looked at its transference to the United States by enslaved Africans or its contemporary use by Blacks in the United States. Daniel Mato, an expert on these symbols, offers a clear reason as to why several scholars have not looked closely at the Adinkra symbols in general: “There is at present no single historical precedent for the factual dating of Adinkra cloth, for its origins are given through collateral historical events which are open to question and verification and limited in number” (12). The ambiguity of the symbols’ origin should not exclude its further excavation and that is why this research is important to me.
To understand the Adinkra symbols, one must understand the norms and ethics of those who are believed to have invented them. Adinkra symbols were believed to have been invented in the early 17th century by the Akans and the language that was used to create these symbols is Twi which is spoken by the Akans. The foundation of the Akan language is based on the use of things. Akans are also very particular about the spirit world and nature. Many of the symbols speak to one's relationship with God and the afterworld. Additionally, Akans often cherish proverbs as a way of advising the youth and telling stories: some of these Akan proverbs are reflected in the naming and interpretations of these symbols. The aim of my project is to understand how art is implemented in the defining of the Adinkra symbols and where it permeated as a cultural practice in the African American society. For me, this will mean looking at how other art practices or the symbols themselves are represented in Black culture.
African Diaspora Literature: Women's Voices
The image of the woman is usually considered as “something as yet to be discovered, always in the process of becoming” (Daymond 1). It is therefore easy to understand that when women represent themselves in literature, they create characters that are on an unending journey to discover the truth to their identity. African women writers especially produce works that discuss change, growth, and self-discovery. In turn, these discussions give a voice to the continually marginalized perspective of the African woman. Bulawayo, Dangaremba, Aidoo, Adichie, Emecheta are female writers who bring to light interesting aspects of African female characters who are foregrounded in their communities and seek to actively reconstruct their misrepresented images.