Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Arts and Craft: What They Sometimes Portray!

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

If you live in or travel to Africa very often then you certainly are familiar with Africa’s great works of art and craft. Some of the crafts and artisan objects originate from the continent’s rich and diversified culture. Others attempt to depict everyday life, humanity, attitudes, believes, myths and realities. Perhaps that’s the beauty behind every piece of art!

While on the field as a culture desk reporter (2003-2005), I had the chance of interviewing a cross section of artists and artisans so too did my love for art and craft increased. Often I sought to understand what some works of art actually signified. For instance a painting could carry a message of hope. Sometimes that of suffering or love; to name but these.
I must admit my love for arts and craft has kind of doubled over time. Every piece I come across I tend to appreciate it and sometimes I would purchase it. I equally take delight in snapping or filming some of them. I sometimes put my imagination to test by crafting something! I may not be good at craft but I guess I could make an appreciation of what I see!

This is perhaps the most annoying piece of art/craft I have ever come across. I walked into an “open- air African designed restaurant”, decorated with beautiful calabashes and nice paintings; depicting a typical African village setting. Behold I saw these “nude-feminine-structured works of art”.
I pulled out my camera to get some shots I would use on my blog. As I took these photos I noticed some Europeans were doing same and I kept wondering why some artists would rather portray "nude feminine objects" as if that’s all a woman’s got to show! Unfortunately some artists/sculptors are specialized in carving such pieces!

“She” is rather decent. In most African cultural and traditional settings the woman is obliged to cover her body (at least her private) while in public just like the man. Ironically, many works of art that seek to portray African men, are hardly left unclad (if not partially).
This is a case in point (a photo I took at the same venue).

Generally, I hold women in high esteem not just because I am a woman ! A woman is worth respecting! She has many virtues known to many of us. Of course as a human being she has her own weaknesses! That notwithstanding I believe she is a lovely human being, full of dignity! Seemingly and unfortunately so, the "woman" is yet to completely wipe off the "negative and sometimes indecent tags" her society continues to put on her. If only she could be perceived by many (especially artists)from a more decent perspective, perhaps…………………..!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Stop! Reflect and Pay Tribute to Women the World Over !

By Mabi Azefor Fominyen

Each year, women the world over are in the spotlight on March 8 coined the International day of the woman. It is a day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. Simply put , it is an occasion to think about the woman, assess her role in the community and celebrate her contribution to making herself and the world a better place .Women’s groups, organizations as well as individual usually take part in the celebration.

In Cameroon March 8 hardly goes by unnoticed, unlike in some other countries. A number of socio-cultural activities are organized prior to the day ( with the women being active during all such events)even though the women’s march-pass is a “vital” part of the day's celebration. The day usually culminates in heavy eating, drinking and dancing by women groups.
The “Women’s day” fabric is considered a “must-have” by many women in Cameroon, for the celebration to be somewhat complete. Different dress patterns especially the ‘kaba’( a traditional free-flow outfit typical of the Sawa people)as well as head-gears are usually on display.

I have a passion for women and gender issues. Sometimes I describe myself as a "Womanist". You would therefore imagine my feelings each time I think of such moments when people the world over pay tribute to the woman such as:

March 8(The International Day for the woman),

July 31(The day of the African Woman),

October 15 (Rural women’s day).

Many are those who question: why celebrate the “woman”?

The road has been a long and tedious one for many women in their quest to get a “fair treatment” like their male counter parts –call it gender equity. The challenges have been and are still enormous. Many women the world over continue to suffer from acts of violence caused by the men sometimes leading to pain and death. Some face discrimination at home and at the workplace. Many still lack access to education. Harmful traditional and cultural practices continue to stand on the path of women.The rights of many are violated. A good number of women are yet to make their voices heard in different circles.

However, it is important to recognize that the emancipation and empowerment of women is today a reality in many areas and communities .Women are seen in all facet of life, they hold key positions and take the lead in many spheres. Many now hold themselves in higher esteem. In fact they have come a long way and this calls for celebration. They are politicians, bankers, pilots, doctors, journalists, nurses, teachers, traders, drivers, cooks, farmers; to name but these!

Happy Women’s Day!