Saturday, January 29, 2011



The population of the Ivory Coast is approx 16,400,000 (est. July 2001).

There are more than 60 ethnic groups, the key ones being the Baoulé in the center, the Agri in the east, the Senufo in the north, the Dioula in the northwest and west, the Bété in the center-west and the Dan-Yacouba in the west. Houphouët-Boigny promoted his own group, the Baoulé, who account for 23% of the population. The succession of Konan Bédié, another Baoulé, has annoyed many groups, the Bété in particular.

Migrants from other west African countries account for up to 40% of the population.

Côte d'Ivoire with capital city YAMOUSSOUKRO is located in the northern hemisphere between the Tropic of Cancer and the equator and opens to the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea . More precisely its coordinates are between laitude 10° and 4° North and 10° and 0° longitude West. Its surface is about 322,462
Côte d'Ivoire has common boundaries with 5 countries : Liberia in the West then Guinea a bit up in the North - Mali and Burkina Faso in the North - Ghana in the East. The coast alongside the Gulf of Guinea is 550 km long.
The political capital is Yamoussoukro (about 120,000 inhabitants) and the economic one is Abidjan (about 1,850,000 inhabitants). Côte d'Ivoire reckons four main rivers with many tributaries :
- Comoé has its source in Burkina Faso and goes across the country from the North to the South crossing the Parc National de la Comoé (National Reserve of Comoé) proceeds along the frontier of Ghana and flows into the Atlantic Ocean near Grand Bassam.

The Baoulé people are established in the savannah and the forest zone respectively the Mid-East and the South-East of the country. Numerous peoples resembling the Guéré or the Krou and spread into the forest in a multitude of different important groups can be reported in the South-west. There, one finds the Godié, Koidia, Néyo, Bondoukoua, Tépo and many other more.Ivorians are a deeply religious people, however, 13% of the Ivorian population do not belong to any religion and Muslims represent 23% of the population while Christians represent only 12%. 65% of the population is composed of animists, which is a very significant proportion.
It is to be noted that there is a new tendancy in the proliferation of sects or the division in the Christian Church. Among the new sects, the "Soldier of God", the "Assemblies of God" and "Jehovah Witnesses" are particularly representative of the significant ones.
As can be observed in Côte d'Ivoire, the traditional African religions that may be generally classed as animists have remained in the majority and resisted, for more than a century, the thrust of the Muslim marabous and the white Christian missionaries

Friday, June 25, 2010

Argungu Festival In NIgeria

Lagos — The 59th edition of the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival has come and gone, but events that took place within the four days of the festival will remain indelible in the minds of tourists that graced the occasion despite the fact that it was not well funded by the state government unlike previous editions due to the current economic meltdown.

During the festival, the most spectacular 'Durbar' with 500 well decorated horses and their riders, 120 well decorated camels and their riders took part in the festival partly sponsored by Maltina, MTN, Virgin Air, Access Bank and UBA among others.

The first Durba in the history of Nigeria was organised in 1925 in Kano in honour of Prince Edward, the son of King George the fifth of England on his visit to Nigeria, which was followed by another to commemorate Nigeria's Independence in October 1960, while subsequent Durbar took place in Kaduna in honour of late Emperor Haile Salasie of Ethiopia in 1973. In 1977, the Durba which formed part of FESTAC in Lagos was celebrated.

This year's Grand Durba had in display various cultures showcasing the rich cultural heritage of people of Kebbi State, with the flag bearer of the historic Argungu Emirate leading the Durba procession. The Durba was not without other tribes like Yoruba and Igbos signifying the peaceful co-existence among people of Argungu Emirate irrespective of their socio-cultural back ground.
The Durba, as one of the most thrilling events in the culture of Northern Nigeria has become one of the most attractive aspect of tourism where tourists have value for their money.
During the Grand Final of the 2009 Argungu International and Cultural Festival, after two hours of intensive fishing competition by thousands of fishermen, a 34 year old man Mallam Abubakar Dadu Tarasa from Birnin Kebbi local government area of Kebbi State came first with the biggest catch. His fish weighed 55Kgs at the colourful ceremony attended by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, his wife Hajiya Turai, six governors and many traditional rulers.
The second prize went to Alhaji Muhammad Ndire Argungu, who caught a weighing 25Kgs. He received a motorcycle and N200,000 cash from Maltina, one Hajj seat from Hajiya Yar'Adua and fishing equipment worth N70,000.

Hussaini Gairi from Zamfara State came third for catching a fish weighing 20Kgs. For his effort, he got a motorcycle and N100, 000 from Maltina, one Hajj seat and fishing equipment worth N40, 000, while Mohammed Dandije from Bunza Local Government Area came fourth for catching a fish weighing 19Kgs.
President Yar'Adua, while speaking at the occasion announced that the Federal Government will establish 12 fish estates in the six geo-political zones of the country. He said the fish estates when established will produce 120 million metric tones of fish annually and government intends to double the figure after four years.
The President stated that Kebbi State will host zonal headquarters of fish estate to be established in the North-west zone. He revealed that Nigeria spends US $700 million in the importation of fish, adding that at present the country can only produce five million metric tones of fish annually.
The president announced that the Federal Government will collaborate with other international donor agencies towards providing soft loan to fish farmers to improve fish farming. He commended the government and people of Kebbi State for maintaining their cultural heritage.

In a remark, the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Sama'ila Mohammed Mera commended the state government for its commitment to the development of tourism industry. He thanked the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar III for promoting the cordial relationship existing between Sokoto Caliphate and Argungu Emirate.
The festival was attended by over 3000 tourists and top government officials including the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar, six governors, Minister for Culture and Tourism, Senator Jibrin Gada, Members of the National Assembly among others.
The event has become the premiere tourism attraction with international recognition in and outside Nigeria.
Every year people from all over the world converge on the historic town of Argungu in Kebbi State to enjoy not only the friendly atmosphere of the festival, its fascinating event, entertainment and fishing competition, but also to meet and mix with people of different nationalities at the tourist resort in a spirit that transcends artificial barriers.

The genesis of the event is believed to have a link to the historic visit to Argungu by Sultan Hassan Dan Mua'zu of the Sokoto Caliphate in 1934. It was on this occasion that the fishing event, for the first time in history, was organised in a grand style participated by fisher men from all the nooks and crannies of Argungu emirate as part of the civic reception in honour of the visiting royal father.
Before then, the fishing competition was usually organised as an informal get together of local fisher men living within the immediate vicinity of Argungu, simply to celebrate end of seasonal harvest. The rivers and the patches of lakes dotted every where to provide venues for the fishing activities which has become famous among 'Kabawa' ethnic group in the state.
In spite of the incessant fierce engagements, the Kabawa stood their ground and were never defeated until the British Colonial forces defeated Sokoto in 1902.
With the memorable event, bilateral relations between Argungu and Sokoto were finally established thereby putting an end to all forms of hostilities. Today, the Argungu Fishing Festival has metamorphosed from local get-together to an international event with glaring modifications in the entire programme. The event is now being supported by the Federal Ministry of Tourism ad Culture, the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC) and many sponsors.
The yearly festival programme always include catapulting, fish fair, cultural night, 'Kabanci' display, agriculture fair and the real fishing competition which is the most interesting part of the event. The fishing competition is the key event of the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival. It is usually positioned on the last and final day of the festival.
The venue of this competition is called 'Matan Fada' a portion of the river up stream at the northern end of Argungu town. Fishing activities are forbidden in the area throughout the year, except for the competition. This is one of the measures taken to ensure safety of the fish.

Hussani Ibrahim Makwashe is the supreme head of the fishing sites and custodian of the waters, who performs all the traditional fishing rites, before the commencement of any festival. Scene of the actual fishing event is better seen than described. When the competition is about to begin, hundreds of the fishermen equipped with a pair of traditional hand nets called 'Homa' and a large gourd with an opening at the top which keep the fishermen afloat on the water as they roam about searching for a catch.
The fishermen are made to stay on line at the opposite end of the river bank, tensely awaiting the signal. Indeed, it is difficult to describe the massive charge when eventually the signal is given but, suffice to say, that it is the most thrilling point of the event.
An equally fascinating moment is when individual fishermen start making big catches, the battle that ensues is exciting. One will hear them shout on top of their voices, calling for help. The winner emerges after weighing the catches of the day.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

The World Wonders

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom): Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria as depicted by 16th-century Dutch artist Marten Heemskerk.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing.
The Seven Wonders of the World (or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) is a well known list of remarkable constructions of classical antiquity. It was based on guidebooks popular among the ancient Hellenic tourists. The most prominent of these, the versions by Antipater of Sidon and an observer identified as Philon of Byzantium, is composed of seven works located around the Mediterranean rim. In turn, this original list has inspired innumerable versions through the ages, often in keeping with the limited number of seven entries. Of the original Seven Wonders, only one—the Great Pyramid of Giza—has remained relatively intact into the current day.



Alexander the Great's conquest of much of the known world in the 4th century BC gave Hellenistic travelers access to the civilizations of the Egyptians, Persians, and Babylonians. These visitors, smitten by the landmarks and marvels of the various lands, began to list what they saw. As a way of organizing, a compendium of these places made it easier to remember. Indeed, in place of the contemporary usage of the word "wonder," the Greeks actually used the word "theamata," which translates to "things to be seen" or "must-sees." Hence, the list was meant to be the Ancient World's counterpart of a travel guidebook.
Each person had his own version of the list, but the best known and earliest surviving was from a poem by Greek-speaking epigrammist Antipater of Sidon from around 140 BC. He named seven sites on his list, but was primarily in praise of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus:
I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the great man made mountains of the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis, that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself, has never looked upon its equal, outside Olympus'
Antipater, Greek Anthology IX.58
Another 2nd-century-BC observer, who claimed to be the mathematician Philon of Byzantium, wrote a short account entitled The Seven Sights of the World. However, the incomplete surviving manuscript only covered six of the supposedly seven places, which agreed with Antipater's list.
Earlier and later lists by the historian Herodotus (484 BC–ca. 425 BC) and the architect Callimachus of Cyrene (ca. 305–240 BC), housed at the Museum of Alexandria, survived only as references.
The Colossus of Rhodes was the last of the seven to be completed, after 280 BC, but the first to be destroyed, by an earthquake in 226/225 BC. Hence, all seven existed at the same time for a period of less than 60 years. Few people could personally witness all the seven wonders.
Antipater had an earlier version which replaced Lighthouse of Alexandria with the Walls of Babylon. Lists which preceded the construction of Colossus of Rhodes completed their seven entries with the inclusion of the Ishtar Gate.
In the sixth century, a list of seven wonders was compiled by Gregory, Bishop of Tours. The list included the Temple of Solomon, the Pharos of Alexandria and Noah's Ark.


It is thought that the limitation of the lists to seven entries was attributed to the special magical meaning of the number. Geographically, the list only covered the sculptural and architectural monuments of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, then thought to encompass the "known" world for the Greeks. Hence, extant sites beyond this realm were not considered as part of contemporary accounts.
The primary accounts, coming from Hellenistic writers, also heavily influenced the places included in the wonders list. Five of the seven entries are a celebration of Greek accomplishments in the arts and architecture (the exceptions being the Pyramids of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon).

The Seven Ancient Wonders

Wonder Date of construction Builder Notable feature Date of destruction Cause of destruction Modern Location
Great Pyramid of Giza 2584-2561 BC Egyptians Built as the tomb of fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. Extant Extant Giza, Egypt
Hanging Gardens of Babylon 605-562 BC Babylonians Diodorus Siculus described multi-levelled gardens reaching 22 meters (75 feet) high, complete with machinery for circulating water. Large trees grew on the roof. Built by Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife Amytis of Media. After 1st century BC Earthquake Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq
Statue of Zeus at Olympia 466-456 BC (Temple) 435 BC (Statue) Greeks Occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple that was built to house it, and was 12 meters (40 feet) tall. 5th-6th centuries AD Fire Olympia, Greece
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus c. 550 BC Lydians, Persians, Greeks Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, it took 120 years to build. Herostratus burned it down to achieve lasting fame. Rebuilt by Alexander the Great only to be destroyed again by the Goths. It was rebuilt once again after, only to be closed in 391 and destroyed by a mob led by St John Chrysostom in 401. 356 BC (by Herostratus)
AD 262 (by the Goths)
AD 391 (by mob led by St John Chrysostom)
Arson by Herostratus, Plundering near Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 351 BC Carians, Persians, Greeks Stood approximately 45 meters (135 feet) tall with each of the four sides adorned with sculptural reliefs. Origin of the word mausoleum, a tomb built for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire by AD 1494 Damaged by an earthquake and eventually disassembled by European Crusaders. Bodrum, Turkey
Colossus of Rhodes 292-280 BC Greeks A giant statue of the Greek god Helios, god of the sun, c. 35 m (110 ft) tall. 226 BC Earthquake Rhodes, Greece
Lighthouse of Alexandria c. 280 BC Hellenistic Egypt Between 115 and 135 meters (383 – 440 ft) it was among the tallest structures on Earth for many centuries. The island that it was built on, Pharos, eventually spawned the Latin word for lighthouse, again Pharos. AD 1303-1480 Earthquake Alexandria, Egypt


 Arts and architecture

The seven wonders on Antipater's list won praises for their notable features, ranging from superlatives of the highest or largest of their types, to the artistry with which they were executed. Their architectural and artistic features were imitated throughout the Hellenistic world and beyond.
The Greek influence in Roman culture, and the revival of Greco-Roman artistic styles during the Renaissance caught the imagination of European artists and travellers. Paintings and sculptures alluding to Antipater's list were made, while adventurers flocked to the actual sites to personally witness the wonders. Legends circulated to further complement the superlatives of the wonders.

Modern lists

Of Antipater's wonders, the only one that has survived to the present day is the Great Pyramid of Giza. The existence of the Hanging Gardens has not been proven, although theories abound. Records and archaeology confirm the existence of the other five wonders. The Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus were destroyed by fire, while the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Colossus, and tomb of Mausolus were destroyed by earthquakes. Among the artifacts to have survived are sculptures from the tomb of Mausolus and the Temple of Artemis in the British Museum in London.
Still, the listing of seven of the most marvellous architectural and artistic human achievements continued beyond the Ancient Greek times to the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and to the modern age. The Roman poet Martial and the Christian bishop Gregory of Tours had their versions. Reflecting the rise of Christianity and the factor of time, nature and the hand of man overcoming Antipater's seven wonders, Roman and Christian sites began to figure on the list, including the Colosseum, Noah's Ark and Solomon's Temple. Modern historians, working on the premise that the original Seven Ancient Wonders List was limited in its geographic scope, also had their versions to encompass sites beyond the Hellenistic realm—from the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to the Seven Wonders of the World. Indeed, the "seven wonders" label has spawned innumerable versions among international organizations, publications and individuals based on different themes—works of nature, engineering masterpieces, constructions of the Middle Ages, etc. Its purpose has also changed from just a simple travel guidebook or a compendium of curious places to list of sites that entail preservation and protection.

See also

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kenyan Cultures

    One is wooden and the other made of flesh and blood. However, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. They both stand on the left leg, the right foot effortlessly hooked on the crook of the knee of the other. They spot long ochre-dyed hair and red sheets as the only attire on the body. A spear in the right hand and a stern face complete the picture. One of them is a carving of a Maasai man and the other is a living member of the Maasai community and, in this case, the difference between the two is obscure because they are one thing: merchandise for the tourism industry. Merchandise is put in shops for display and that is why there are Maasai carvings in curio shops. Real Maasai are merchandise and that is why they are displayed at the entrances of some hotels as some special attraction. Merchandise must be glamorised so that it can appeal and so it is natural for the Maasai people to be given a glossy finish on post cards and tourist marketing brochures. In the end, the myth is sold of a warrior and warlike tribe somewhere in Africa. The tribe's male live on the hearts of the lions they kill in the sprawling savanna. For a change of diet, they turn to blood and milk. The myth must be seen in its natural form which is in the wild so the mini buses loaded with tourists armed with whining cameras crisscross Maasai land . The Maasai on their part have learned that there is a dollar in being merchandise of the curio type. So they turn out in front of their manyattas (kraal) as if in Hollywood. For a dollar, the tourist can both see this creature of the wild and photograph it. For a job well done to deliver the merchandise to the tourists, the tour guide gets his tip. The curio dealer in town is thus matched by the human curio dealer in the Maasai plains. The tourist goes back home and says that he has seen Africa. He claims that he has seen man almost at his primeval stage. Yet another lie is sold. One does not blame the tourist for buying the image for it has been sold to him by the Kenya Government through its tourists offices. The image has been marketed by tour companies, hotels and other tourism merchandising concerns. The tourist buys an irresistible package of lies that culture is a commodity to be bought and sold in the open market. The same package contains very palatable lies that the only cultures that exist in Kenya are those of the so-called "un-urbanised" tribes. Culture as a fusion of a people's way of life is not a commodity. It is an expression of their totality and when taken otherwise, it is hard to tell between them and wildlife. In this case, the Maasai has the same camera value with a buffalo since their lives begin when the camera begins to whine and ends when it is shut down. Culture is much more dynamic than a moment of a camera flash which is what the exotic image made of the Maasai turns it into. Culture holds the past and present, a blending that the post cards of the Maasai kills. Culture is dynamic and the Maasai are not exceptional to that rule. The shuka-clad (a red cloth that the Maasai wrap around themselves) Maasai man is at home with a Coke as the urbanised man from Central Province. The eyes of the tourists must, however, be tinted so that they see a tribe caught in a time warp. Anything different would kill the image of the exotic. The image makers would rather join the politicians who live on the ignorance of the people from that community. They would rather make them believe that long pants belong to the second millennium and not to now. So long as shukas are their only wear the tourists will keep coming. The big lie that only the "exotic" tribes have a culture worth being seen in Kenya by tourists has of course led to the short changing of visitors. They arrive at the airport, head for the game drives and in the process, they also see the Maasai and their manyattas. After hopping from park to park and manyatta to manyatta, it is time to head back home. There is no time to watch the culture of Luo football fans; the culture of nyama choma; the fisher man's culture and that of the clay pot maker. There isn't a moment to listen to that Shauri Moyo band that plays benga or watch an African play at Miujiza Theatre. All those and others are facets of Kenyan culture and pretending that they are not only serves to give the tourist a half baked view of Kenya. It is like taking a Kenyan tourist to Trafalagar Square, showing him or her the crowd there, photographing the feeding of pigeons and then loading the visitor back into the plane. The Maasai and the Big Five are certainly faces of Kenya. However, to take them to be a composite of Kenya is a lie that should stop. To take the Maasai and the Big Five as being the same is to insult a people. It is an insult that has continued for long but its life must end in the minds and acts of those who think of tourism as an affair that deals with people other than commodities. It is all a matter of understanding that culture is not a plastic thing. It is about real life. WAHOME MUTAHI reporting for Safarimate

Official Google Blog: Making URLs shorter for Google Toolbar and FeedBurner

Official Google Blog: Making URLs shorter for Google Toolbar and FeedBurner

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Bronze King and The Urhobo Statue

Originally, African tribal art was mainly for religious purposes. Sculptures were made for ceremonies. Each mask had a spiritual meaning and masquerades were unique and sacred to different tribes.
Today, Contemporary African art is a mix. There's been a shift towards African art designed for its aesthetic appeal. Interior and home decorators blend African art in their designs. The masks are no longer worn but hang proudly in homes. African batiks and wax textiles hang comfortable on European, American and Asian walls. Bronze sculptures that were once the exclusive rights of the King rest peacefully on our tables. When we desire an ethnic feel, crave for that extra warmth, and long for the vibrancy of complementary colors, we turn to African paintings. Sleep is easy on Adinkra stamped pillows and mud cloth blankets.
This is the nature of contemporary African art. Functionality in every artwork. 

This piece came from an unknown French embassy attaché who worked in Africa in the 70's
I liked the old wood "oxidation" in the face. 
The amulet it has around he neck contains Koran verses.
You won't find much Urhobo pieces on the market. 
Height is 72 cm
Price: sold
Read more about this Urhobo tribe on the internet:

Columbia Urhobo | Urhobo | Smithsonian Urhobo

  urhobo-back  urhobo-side