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AFRICAN “CLICK” LANGUAGES

“Clicks” are found in only 24-38 living languages.

Map/photo from Google

Clicks have nonverbal meanings (like indicating disapproval or sympathy) in English and many other languages. But they’re only used as consonants in 24 to 38 living languages.

It is not easy to differentiate between a language and a dialect.

These languages are spoken in Africa.

There is also an extinct Aboriginal language from Australia that uses them.

The largest language family with clicks is the Khoisan “family”.

Photo from Google: A San (Bushman) who gave an exhibition of traditional dress and hunting/foraging behaviour.

The scare quotes are because linguists no longer believe that all of the languages in this family are actually closely related. Click consonants seem to be the only thing that ties them together.

Click consonants are the defining feature of the Khoisan languages, but neighbouring languages like Zulu and Xhosa also incorporate them. Linguists believe clicks spread to these languages through intermarriage and interaction with the neighbouring San peoples.

There is an interesting theory about how this may have happened. In the Zulu and Xhosa cultures, certain people could not say the names of certain other people, or even say things that sound like their names. So, the Khoisan wives knew just what to use: clicks.

As Khoisan wives used their native clicks to censor themselves, eventually the clicks became associated with polite speech. From there, they spread to become an integral part of the language.

“Click languages” may be the oldest languages in the world.

Some scientists believe that the first spoken human language include clicks.

Language is constantly changing, even today.

In 2003, Stanford geneticists analysed mitochondrial DNA from two groups of click speakers: the Ju|’hoansi of the Kalahari desert and the Hadzabe of Tanzania.  Both groups are among the most ancient cultures, with mitochondrial DNA that links them to the dawn of humanity. Despite this, they aren’t closely related. In fact, the Stanford scientists described them as “on the opposite sides of the root.” They’ve had almost no contact with each other almost since humans became humans.

How do you write clicks?

It depends on the language and the type of click in question. In general, Xhosa and other Bantu languages use the Roman letters C, Q, and X, either by themselves or in digraphs. Khoisan languages use exclamation points and other symbols based on a vertical bar called a “pipe” to indicate clicks.

For example, the “!” in the word !Kung indicates a click, as does the vertical bar in “Ju|’hoansi”.

The “click language” in “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is !Kung.

If you’ve ever watched “The Gods Must Be Crazy” and wondered about the mystery language the tribe in the movie speaks, wonder no longer. It’s the Juǀʼhoan dialect of !Kung. The !Kung actor, Nǃxau ǂToma, lived a traditional life before starring in the film.

If you haven’t watched this film I can recommend it as an example and, if you like comedy, you will certainly be entertained and have a good laugh!

Click languages may sound exotic to Western ears. But to native speakers, they are no more unusual than “A is for apple” or “B is for boy.”

South African singer and activist, Miriam Makeba said in one of her shows:

“Everywhere we go, people often ask me, ‘How do you make that noise?’. It used to offend me because it isn’t a noise. It’s my language.”

We will leave you with a link to this video of Makeba singing “The Click Song,”  or  “Qongqothwane.”

You will have to turn the volume all the way up, but it is worth it to hear her break down Xhosa pronunciations.

From You Tube

The sound in the next link has better quality:

From You Tube
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2021 online San Francisco Tribal and Textile Art Fair, 24-28 February

The Virtual Edition of

The 35th Annual San Francisco Tribal & Textile Art Show

Two unique Virtual shows presented February 24 – 28, 2021

Dates:

Online Benefit Previews

February 24, 2021 (Wednesday)

35th Tribal & Textile Art Show Virtual Benefit 9 AM to 4 PM PST • Noon to 7 PM EST • 5 PM to Midnight GMT 37th American Indian Art Show Virtual Benefit 10 AM to 5 PM PST • 1 PM to 8 PM EST • 6 PM to 1 AM GMT

https://sanfranciscotribalandtextileartshow.com/about.php

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Guinea-Bissau

There is quite a bit that can be said about Guinea-Bissau but here we will focus very briefly on the arts culture side of this lovely place on Earth, more specifically Africa!

Guinea-Bissau is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west.

Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Kaabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were under some rule by the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. In the 19th century, it was colonised as Portuguese Guinea. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country’s name to prevent confusion with Guinea (formerly French Guinea).

Speaking about tribal art of the area, the Bijagós people are famous for their traditions of mask making (such as bull, cow and hippo masks) and sculpture – you will see these come out in carnival season. Statues representing irans (great spirits) are used in connection with agricultural and initiation rituals.

Photo: Young Bijagos Islands men perform ritual dances to attract wives in this matriarchal society. Most other ethnic groups in Guinea-Bissau are patriarchal.
Young Bijagos Islands men perform ritual dances to attract wives in this matriarchal society. Most other ethnic groups in Guinea-Bissau are more patriarchal.

Bijago art or Bidyogo art is African tribal art produced by the natives of the Bijagos Islands of Guinea-Bissau. It includes many artifacts for daily use and ritual practices, following a traditional iconography that is unique to their culture, but shows variations from island to island. Such art pieces are known as Bidyogo art and their unique aesthetics make Bidyogo art distinctive from all other African tribal art with the exception of the nearby Baga people who share some of the iconography (and are considered a “related tribe” by Bacquart).

There are a lot of websites with further information about Guinea-Bissau if you are interested to learn more, such as:

https://www.everyculture.com/Ge-It/Guinea-Bissau.html

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The Women Only Village in Kenya – Umoja

You can visit or stay in Umoja, a unique women’s only village in the heart of Kenya. This inspirational village honours the life of Samburu women and provides a self-sustaining example in a male-dominated tribal system.

The Matriarch of the Umoja Uaso Women’s Village, Rebecca Lolosoli has done something really extraordinary. She has started a revolution and pioneered the establishment of this village in an area where women do not have the right to own land, livestock or attend school. She has overcome these obstacles through international acclaim for her beadwork, income generation, support and funding.

Umoja means “Unity”

The Umoja village was formed by women for women, to provide security and as a means of pooling resources and skills. The village is a refuge for girls and women, who have suffered from genital mutilation, rape, forced marriage and spousal abuse. Widows and orphans are also part of the Umoja group which numbers just under 50 members.

Umoja women support themselves and their children through their creative skills with beadwork and crafts. The village also creates income through tourism. A community centre has been built as well as a pre-school for children from the village and neighbouring areas.

Other initiatives include group funds for sickness, disability and savings. Umoja provides adult education and acts as a guiding light to other women’s groups in the hinterland.

There is so much more that can be learnt about this small village and other similar ones, but, we left you with only a glimpse of one such village…

In the company of women: (centre) Judia, 19, came to the village of Umoja six years ago, having run away from home to avoid being sold into marriage. Umoja was founded in 1990 by 15 women who were raped by British soldiers. Photograph: Georgina Goodwin for the Observer
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Book: Culture & Customs of Senegal

For those who are interested in learning more about Senegal and its Culture and Customs, we leave you with a reading suggestion which offers a broad view into the lives of Senegalese People.

A blend of indigenous life in the rural countryside and metropolitan culture in urban centres, Senegal has been a small, yet prominent country on Africa’s western coast. In this comprehensive study of contemporary Senegalese life, readers will learn how daily lifestyles are celebrated through both religious and secular customs. Students can investigate how Senegal’s oral storytelling, Islamic roots, and French colonialism have shaped literature and media in today’s society. From the street to the studio, the topic of art in Senegalese life is also covered. Ross also delves into architectural styles and modern housing in urban environments, while also covering typical cuisine and traditional fashion. Readers will learn about the typical Senegalese family as a social and economic unit, and will see how music, dance, and sports play an integral role in their lives. Ideal for high school students and general readers, this volume in the Culture and Customs of Africa series is a perfect addition to any library’s reference collection.