For The Love of Home: African Decor Ideas

We love our African continent, from her iconic shape, majestic forests, beautiful people and epic wild life. Our home continent has a lot to offer, pristine beaches, numerous natural resources, precious minerals and metals. The origin of the human race is in Africa, South Africa to be specific. Africa is the mother land. I love our African cultures, we’re ancient and wise. Our rich history and cultural aesthetic is everything, people travel from all over the world to come to Africa. And, when they leave they go with beautiful African decor and art to decorate their swanky homes.

Yes there is a problematic history of Europeans stealing African artifacts and having them on display in their museums. Its almost as if they’re saying look at the work of these mighty cultures and look at how we were able to dominate the African people…

If you watch Top Billing you see some of the fanciest homes in the country and the interior designers mostly uses home decor that’s on trend. So like the copper light fixtures that dangle in the air. Many of the decor that we use in the home is from European culture. From the colours we paint the walls of our homes, the furniture in the home even down to the plates and mugs we use, all have that European sensibility.

I’d like to think, as we are living in the post-colony that there will be a remembrance and celebration of our dynamic African style. You can already see this in how African girls and women are embracing their natural hair texture. And how more and more people are wearing formal clothes made from materials with African prints. This reflects that Africans are considering their culture as sophisticated and elegant. Whereas in the past we were indoctrinated to see our culture and customs as inferior to that of Europeans. But right now, African aesthetics is absolutely on the ascent.

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi

One way we can take back power is to decorate our homes with African elements. I’m sure you could go to some homes in South Africa and they will be decorated in exactly the same way in which homes are in England. You wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. This is of course a result of the colonial enterprise, as they took raw materials like wood from us and sold us processed goods such as dining tables and chairs made from that wood in an exploitative economic relationship. In order for us Africans to spend what little money we had on their processed goods was because they convinced us through oppression that theirs was superior. As well as stamping out the African competition and making it virtually impossible for African businesses to exist as Africans were to be the cheap labour for their businesses.

The shift has already began, we see the Chinese manufacturing companies have already started making clothes, furniture and decor that have the African feel to appeal to South African customers. If you walk into Mr Price home you will see African inspired decor. My suggestion is that we buy our African decor from African vendors and businesses, in that way we know that the money is coming back to fertilize the soil of African entrepreneurship.

Photo by Max Brown

So, for the love of home, the African continent and our literal homes, lets celebrate our super cool African artistic taste.

Here Are Some African Decor Ideas

Photo by Orlova Maria

I love this hall way for example. From the colour of the walls and the clay pot that is on top of the wall unit, holding the green reeds, is just a vibe. Embracing African cultural style is akin to embracing the organic as lot of our decor is made from wood, straw and clay, all sourced from the natural world and therefore are environmentally sustainable. As you can see the indoor plants, create a natural ambiance. In our culture we embrace nature and see our indigenous plants as beautiful. In African culture there is respect for Mother Nature.

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto

This outdoor furniture set is goals, for example. Realistically though, this furniture would have to be in a lapa or have a big umbrella over them because you wouldn’t want them to get rained on. Or you could go the more colourful route for outdoor furniture as displayed in the picture below. How epic? I can definitively can see myself doing my African Queen things like playing an African musical instrument on those cushions.

Photo by Annie Spratt

I also love the idea of having indigenous flowers in our vases when we get treated to some flowers. Next time you have guests over or you just like beautifying your space, try indigenous grass flowers like in the picture below.

Photo by Alexander Gorn
Photo by Janine Joles

If you keen for colorful native flowers, you can try South Africa’s national flower the Protea, seen in the picture above. Alternatively, there is also the funky bird of paradise flower, shown in the picture below.

Photo by Dan Yosefi
Photo by Annie Spratt

For a more durable and cost effective house plant you can try South African succulents pictured above. The geometry of the petals is so beautiful and there is a definite sense of calm you get when you look at the beauty of nature.

Photo by Connie Hiles

You can have an African print carpet like the one above, but you know what would be cool? An Ndebele geometric print carpet. Wouldn’t that just be fabulous? If you’re into vibrant colors it would be perfect but if you’re into a more monochromatic theme then something like the a bedroom carpet in the picture above is more suited for you.

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler

Why have a regular American style washing basket when you can have a stylish African straw basket? Sure the normal washing basket will probably last longer as it is made from plastic. But we know we need to decrease our plastic consumption, as we have the massive problem of plastic pollution.

Photo by Andrew Itaga

How about this African candle for your bedside table? Candles are a cost effective decorative item. Also with our load shedding woes it would be nice to have sexier candles than the tall, thin white ones we normally use.

It’s time for us to embrace our Africanness, it’s not only paying homage to our Ancestors. It is liberation.

Photo by Faith Es

Talking Black Panther Music with Yugen Blakrok

As Marvel’s Black Panther takes its well-deserved seat in the Academy Awards club with 6 nominations (including Best Original Song by Kendrick Lamar & SZA), we prepare for Captain Marvel and Avengers: End Game to complete the riveting story that Marvel fans have been following for years. Black Panther was undoubtedly one of the most exciting instalments in this series of films and it is arguably Marvel’s single biggest success as it continues to break records critically and in box office sales.

Stats aside, a lot of us are looking forward to seeing Wakandans again. It’s been a cultural phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. Africans worldwide including the diaspora, embraced and celebrated their African roots in the spirit of Black Panther’s marvellous execution of African beauty and tradition. Wakanda has become the metaphor for the African spirit that connects us all.

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Director, Ryan Coogler, has expressed the level of pressure he felt while making this film, as it was so apparent to everyone that nothing like it had ever been made before. The cast and crew were passionate about honouring the image of African culture and this passion translated over into its music as well. TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) artist Kendrick Lamar was approached to produce the soundtrack for the film. In a Fader interview with David Redshaw, Coogler explains Kendrick Lamar’s evolving involvement in the film’s soundtrack.

“At first, he was just going to do a few songs for the film. Then he came in and watched quite a bit of the movie, and the next thing I know, they were booking a studio and they were going at it.”

Having explored South Africa’s rich culture and outstanding musical talent, TDE reached out to some of their favourite SA artists to collaborate with on the Black Panther soundtrack. The soundtrack includes local artists Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Saudi, Reason and Yugen Blakrok. As the standout performance on the soundtrack, we had to get in touch with the Johannesburg poet and MC for a brief chat about her involvement in the project and the creative process behind her craft.

Yugen Blakrok

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Featured on the fifth track of the Black Panther album, titled ‘Opps’, Yugen Blakrok raps alongside Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar, proving that black women in hip-hop are a force to be reckoned with.  

Let’s start with the creative process behind your art. How did you come up with your stage-name and how does it relate to your style?

It’s a combination of sound and feeling. Yugen from the concept of awareness of the unseen and Blakrok for its weight and strength. The essence of my style is Yugen, my method is Blakrok.

Your style fits very well with the theme of Black Panther’s strong female characters. Did you know much about Black Panther before working on this feature or did you have to do some research?

I knew a bit about the film from trailers and comic books, I never imagined I’d be in any way involved with it. The idea of a strong female character is something that permeates all of my writing, regardless – this is something I identify with.

How were you approached to take part in this project?

I got an email from Sounwave, saying he wanted me on a project they were working on. I lost my mind. I was on tour in Europe, physically drained and didn’t think I’d have the time to do it but I gave it a shot anyway.

What challenges did you face working on this project that were new to you?

It was a different level of pressure. With my own work, I like to take my time and really get into it. With this project, even though Black Panther hadn’t been mentioned, it was chaotic. I wrote as fast as I could and went looking for a studio to record this mystery verse in. When I got to the studio in Berlin, LMNZ had a tea ceremony prepared. I recorded the verse, sent it and forgot about it.

Did you know who else would be featured on this track or did that come as a surprise?

It was a surprise. After I came back to Johannesburg, I received a call letting me know that the verse would be used for the movie. When that tracklist dropped, I was screaming with the rest of the world.

What do you think about Black Panther’s cast as an all-black ensemble?

It’s fantastic that the movie has a brilliant, all-black ensemble. It’s not often that you see black people in powerful roles TOGETHER. I hope it fuels, inspires and drives more people of colour to break these boxed roles we’re constantly forced into.

With Black Panther, do you think the representation of black people in media is evolving?

I think it’s changing and for the most part, improving.

Your increasing fanbase, especially African fans, are bound to be moved and inspired by how well you represented South Africa’s creative ability to an international audience. Were you aware of the impact you might make?

Well, I aim to do best at any given opportunity. The only pressure I feel is to outdo myself. The fact that I didn’t know I was working on the Black Panther soundtrack is a blessing within a blessing. I didn’t know how much the folks over at TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment) knew about South Africa or if this might be their first time hearing an emcee from here, I just wanted to play my damn part.

What advice would you give to other young entertainers and creatives?

Blinders on, run your race and finish. Nothing else matters.

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Speaking My Mother Tongue – A 2019 Resolution

My name is Simile Isizwe Sama Qwabe, Asimbonge Gumede. As you can tell, I am a Zulu girl. But I am incompetent in my mother tongue. Yes, I am what people refer to as a coconut. But I assure you I do not want to be white. My dark skin is beautiful and my dread locks are strong. So how did this happen? I went to a private school my entire life, from grade 00 to matric. I even went to a white creche. My teachers urged my mother to speak to me in English, to push my proficiency to that of my peers and by the time my mother switched back to isiZulu, I had forgotten sentence construction. So, I understand Zulu and speak broken Zulu. Now that I am out of school, completed my degree and officially adulting, I want to be fluent in isiZulu. Speaking predominantly English is not worth the hype. Girls, embrace your home language.

First of all, I am judged for showing off my level of education. Also, people think I think I am better. Like how white people, at times, think they’re better than black people. I am also perceived to look down on my culture, as language and culture go hand in hand. I was always acutely aware that I was black, being the only one in class. I do not think I am white. So, I want to better represent myself as an African. One of my dreams is to write an isiZulu poem.

The world is changing. I learnt this in my politics lectures, Europe and America are not the super powers they used to be. We already know that China is an economic powerhouse. For better or for worse, China is looking at Africa for trade relations.

Furthermore, being successful in life isn’t dictated by your socio-economic class anymore. More and more Africans from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds are making it, and I need to improve my networking potential. I believe I will make more money conducting business in isiZulu and English as opposed to just English.

Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. And girl, I need a man okurrr. I need to be having heart to heart conversations with my future boo. Jokes aside, I want to improve the intimacy of my relationships in general.

Do not think that you are less than because you grew up in black areas. African languages are beautiful and sophisticated. Being proud of your roots, is strength and it is a spiritual resource that we should not forsake in contemporary South Africa.