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Fashion

I hear African women are fat?

In every society, there are fat and thin people, and Africa certainly does not have the fattest people on earth. However, in pristine African societies, when it came to wives, the culture was such that women who looked plump, but not necessarily fat, were preferred by men as potential spouses. This was so much the case that certain cultures in Africa, like the people of Calabar in Nigeria, did indeed fatten brides before they were sent off in marriage. Things have changed a little with Africans coming in contact with Western notions of beauty in a woman. This notwithstanding, being skinny with cheek, neck, and hip bones protruding in different places is, even until date, not the concept of beauty in Africa. Most African men like the feel of some flesh.

Do you talk about fashion in Africa?

Yes, Africans do talk about fashion and they love dressing well. Because of contact with the rest of the world, one encounters fashion from all over the world in Africa. Fashion from France, Italy (especially their shoes), Britain, Brazil, Jamaica, and the United States (jeans especially) are all over Africa, in addition to traditional African couture.

Do Africans wear animal skins?

Not every African has the privilege of being able to put on animal skin as this is usually tied to royalty and other distinguished ranks. So while there are some animal skins used as clothing, these are reserved for special occasions and for very distinguished members of society, or for those playing particular roles. If the idea here is that Africans do not have cloth material or are too poor to buy them, then it is wrong. However, there were times when some Africans put on raffia as clothing. Tshilemalema Mukenge observes of the Congo: "Older persons in Congolese villages speak of times where people used to dress in bark clothes or raffia clothes. Nowadays, the wrap dominates among women and European-style clothes among men..." (107). Mukenge later adds: "The most common women's dress in ancient times consisted of a raffia or bead skirt (tshivunga). The torso was generally uncovered. Gradually, the raffia or bead skirt was replaced by a wrap covering the entire body from the waist down to the ankles. The wrap has remained the distinctive dress of the Congolese woman to date (107).

So you people put on shoes in Africa?

Although there are some families that are so poor that members of the family—like children—cannot afford shoes, the norm is that Africans do put on shoes, and these shoes are from the best shoe supplying countries on earth: Italy, Brazil, and Spain to name a few. The chain of exploitation continues: Africa's raw materials are carted away for virtually nothing and the finished products sold back to them at exorbitant prices.

Geography

What's the size of Africa compared to the US?

In terms of population, Africa is much less densely populated when compared to other continents. With one-tenth the land area of Africa, there are more people living in India than on the continent of Africa. In terms of land surface area, Africa is huge. In fact, continental United States as a whole could fit into the space occupied by the Sahara Desert only. John Reader's presentation of the fact is vivid: "... the United States, China, India, and New Zealand could all fit within the African coastline, together with Europe from the Atlantic to Moscow and much of South America" (4). Gann and Duignan put it differently: "Africa is of tremendous size. Its area, including Madagascar and other adjacent islands, amount to something like 11,700,000 square miles. The United States fits into this great land mass 3.32 times for the fifty states and 3.9 times for the forty-eight contiguous states. A major European country like Great Britain occupies less than 1 percent of Africa's acreage. The area of Belgium, an important ex-colonial power, would have to be enlarged nearly a thousand times before it equaled Africa's size. Africa's length — from north to south — is approximately 5000 miles; this is only about 200 miles less than the distance from New York to Suez. Africa's extreme breadth exceeds 4600 miles, slightly more than the distance from San Francisco to Yokohama in Japan. Judged by these standards, even American proportions dwindle, and the observer remains overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the continent. (5)

Is Egypt in Africa?

Egypt is an African nation, but because of an overwhelming Islamic presence, like other Islamic African nations, Egypt tends to be more culturally related to the Middle East. It is interesting though, how many phony scholars have tried to prove otherwise about Egypt being African, even though Egypt is fully within the landmass of the African continent and not merely just a protuberance, as Florida is to the landmass of the United States. This is all caused by the skin color of the Egyptian and the bias and discriminatory practices of certain individuals; but when all is said and done, Egypt remains a part of the continent of Africa.

Is Africa what I see in "The Gods Must Be Crazy?"

The landscape, yes, is part of Africa's diverse geographical characteristics; the characters, yes, are amongst the many different peoples that live within the continent of Africa, but not the plot and certainly not some of the roles the characters play in the movie. The plot is that of another Hollywood mind at work, and the individual knows it will sell since it is portraying Africa the way Western minds have always relished picturing Africa and Africans— a land of uncivilized peoples. The Bushmen of Africa may be cut off from "civilization," but not to the degree that they do not know what a bottle is, as shown in this entertaining but equally ridiculous movie. So, where did that little twin engine plane come from, from which a Coca-Cola bottle falls out into the territory of the Bushman who picks it up? The plane is just flying past on its way from and back to Europe, I guess? "The Gods Must be Crazy" is an extension of the Tarzan portrait of Africa and nothing more.

 
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