I had this wonderful chat with one of my female friends concerning BEADS and this is what she revealed to me:
ME: ok so generally, what can you say about beads
AKOS: I know beads are one thing that identify us as Africans generally. You know you won’t find our beads the way they are in Afghanistan; they have something maybe similar yet different. Ours is unique
ME: Unique in what sense
AKOS: The style, what it stands for.
ME: ok, so to u, what is the importance of beads to the African or Ghanaian lady
AKOS: ok I can speak for myself. It bonds me to Ghana. Wearing them makes me feel Ghanaian. It actually makes me feel whole too.
ME: can you explain that?
AKOS : I think our grandmothers didn’t give us the beads at infancy for nothing, it defines, shapes our body and so on. Without it, u missing something, I grew up with mine
and I think they will always be a part of me. Besides our men love them
ME : wow, lets pick them one after the other. How do beads shapes the body?
AKOS: when they are on your waist they shape your body by keeping the waist small, so the hips are more accentuated.
ME: ok, great. Why do you think men love them?
HER: they play with them! Yeah…I realized Ghanaian men have a weakness for it…They have that naughty smile when they talk about it and when they see it…I think it is a plus for them when the lady is wearing it.
ME: wow. Plus? in what sense
AKOS: he sees the African beauty in you I suppose. I don’t exactly know what runs through their heads, only that they love it.
Me: ok, so what motivates you to keep up this tradition in a foreign land
AKOS : motivation? It binds me to Ghana. I love wearing it because it makes me unique, differentiates me from the others and the feeling that you have got something that the others do not have is quite pleasing. You have your own little secret and when you ‘mistakenly’ get it exposed’, the attention it attracts. I work in an afro shop sometimes and the people there always ask me, ‘Akos, eii nea egu wase ni ( Ghanaian Language – Twi, meaning – what is that beneath you)?’ My white friends are also impressed.
ME: Ok, thanks
NB: This conversation increased my desire to know more about beads and after a my two weeks intensive lectures and research, this is what I came up with:
One unique aspect of the African culture that still stands out today is the use of jewellery; Not just any jewellery but those that are very decorative and with very bright colours This practice has such deep roots that it can be visibly seen in people of African decent in Europe and the Americas.
Just take a look at most of our international musicians and you will side with me. One aspect of this love for jewellery that still fascinates me is the use of beads. I went out and about to get more knowledge on beads and I loved what I found. Since sharing is caring, I have decided to share what I discovered with you all. Read on.
The origin of beads and how it is made in itself are very interesting and major topics on their own but my concentration was on the uses and importance of beads. This rich tradition of African beadwork is said to have originated from the stone ages. Its enhancements however especially the emergence of the glass beads gained prominence when the continent made contact with beads and accessories imported from Europe.
African beads are made from recycled glass, which is either collected in the form of used bottles. These bottles are pounded into smaller particles, which is then passed through a long process to become the attractive jewellery we all see it to be.
African beadwork majorly represents a cultural identity. Beads are used for mainly for beautification. It is also used for rituals and at other times to tell a story of the one wearing them. Beads are also becoming very popular as erotic tools in what is termed in Ghana as ‘Bedmatics’.
Beads cuts across gender since both men and women use them. Likewise the young and the old. What actually makes beads more popular especially in West Africa is the magical touch it adds to women who use them. Among the many types of beads , the waist beads used by women seem to attract the most attention. Many reasons have been attached to the wearing of waist beads. Waist beads are believed to shape the waistlines and hips of a woman who puts them on.
Beads are used in attracting men romantically. The small types worn around the waist are said to be very erotic and can easily arouse a man. It is rumoured that during sexual intercourse, the men usually play with them. One woman also told me that it helps men who have erectile problem. They therefore call the waist beads ‘starter’. If the reasons above are anything to go by, then ladies of today who openly show their waist beads off are really punishing the men.
So you see how useful beads are in our cultural set-up? The Akans call is ‘toma’, which means ‘buy for’. Husbands who buy beads for their wives are said to be very romantic. Women who use it are said be extra beautiful and sexy. Beads are naturally beautiful on anyone irrespective of gender or age or tribe. get yourself some wrist beads, necklaces or waist beads now to brighten up your African elegance.
NB: Humble Plea : Please our dear ladies, do not let your beads break bounds. Keep them inside your skirts and your trousers. Thank you.
Thanks to all my female friends who helped out especially Phoebe and Sasha. Barbara, hope you will be of much help next time -_______- .