Queen Esperanza Spalding- Black Gold insert Nneka


Have you seen her? Better yet, have you heard the voice of this charming young queen? Her spirit is so fly, this I cannot deny. I’ve seen some interviews and I have a few of her CDs. She has grown so much over the years. Practice, practice, practice.

She is the new thing in JAZZ music and is actually the one keeping it alive. This is 2012 jazz at its best! Her concerts sell out! She is at all the festivals. She plays the double bass and the bass guitar and she does it well. I have seen her playing what seemed to be some very difficult chords, while carrying a tune in voice. Amazing talent. I really hope she passes it on and inspires children to love art in music. The video below is awesome, I don’t know who the lady singing with her is, but they are both Black Gold.

As it pertains to your African Essence, this is an example of women being beautiful in their own skin. No globs of make-up, weave, tight clothes, none of that ridiculous mess. These sisters are truly inspirational and they look absolutely gorgeous. Definitely a style to take home. In the spirit of finding the true you, enjoy.

Peace & love,

Queen Duafe for African Essence


Check out this bonus video. This girl is just wonderful! When I start to see myself in these women, I know we are great. I know we can ALL be great in what we do and pass positive messages of true identity on to one another. Let’s change the world through art queens! Peace.


Mud Cloth is one of the greatest fashion statements


Otherwise known as bogolanfini or bokolanfini, mud cloth is one the greatest designs a queen can wear to show her status. The queen is you. Although it may be too warm in the season to wear right now, you can always pick some up at festivals from vendors who sale ethnic clothing. Since summer is festival time, you are more likely to get mud cloth designs now.

Shila Iris digital designs…

Nothing makes a fashion statement better than mudcloth. Traditional mudcloth sheets are handwoven and made one at a time. No two pieces are exactly alike, so the colors shown are available, but the exact patterns vary from one piece to the next. They’re great for clothing, home decoration, crafts and other creative endeavors. African artisans hand-dye symbols into these fabrics in order to tell stories of their villages and African proverbs. Mudcloth has a long tradition of being used by West African warriors and hunters to camouflage themselves. Nowadays, people across the globe are wearing them to stand out and celebrate their connection to the African continent.

History of the cloth

The word bogolan means something made by using mud, while fini means cloth. The dyes and fabric used in mud cloth can be traced back to the 12th century AD. Due to the perishable nature of fabric and the humid climate of tropical sub-Saharan Africa, it is very difficult to do research on and document African textiles such as these.

Found this pic on internet…

How it is made

♦ Locally produced cotton is combed and spun into yarn by women
♦ The yarn is woven on a double-heddle loom into a narrow strip of about 15 cm in width. This is called strip weaving and is very labor-intensive but is very popular due to the fact that the loom can easily be dismantled and transported, and that it requires a very small capital investment.
♦ The strip is cut into shorter pieces, the length of the required final cloth. These strips are then joined selvedge to selvedge with a whipstitch.
♦ The cloth is washed (mainly to preshrink it) and dried in the sun. This white cloth is called finimougou and is used extensively for clothing in this undecorated state.

♦ The leaves and branches of two different trees, N’Galaman (Anogeissus leiocarpus) and N’Tjankara (Combretum glutinosum), are pounded and soaked in water for 24 hours or boiled in water for a few minutes. This forms a brownish tea, rich in tannic acid.

♦ The cloth is soaked in this solution and takes on a deep yellow colour. The yellow substance acts as a mordant. The cloth is spread out to dry in the sun.
♦ The painting is done with mud that has been collected from ponds the previous season and left to ferment. The artist outlines the designs with a piece of bamboo or metal tool dipped in the mud. The background surrounding the designs is also
filled in with the mud.
♦ As the cloth is left to dry, the dark black turns grey. The cloth is then washed to remove excess mud.
♦ The process of soaking in the leaf tea, painting with mud, washing and drying is repeated a second and sometimes a third time. With each application the mud painted areas become darker.
♦ The yellow areas are then painted with bleach made from boiled, ground peanuts, water, caustic soda and millet bran. This turns the yellow patterns brown.
♦ The cloth is placed in the sun for a week, after which the bleach solution is washed off with water. This leaves the characteristic white patterns on the
dark background.

This whole process can take several weeks to complete. The yellow, although it cannot be seen in the final product, forms a very important part of the whole
process. The iron oxide in the mud is converted to iron tannate by the tannic acid in the leaf tea. The tannic oxide forms a fast dye, which will lighten only slightly with subsequent washing.

Traditionally, the whole painting process was only done by women. Young women were taught by their mothers during a long-term apprenticeship. As with most West-African textile production, all the different activities in the making of mud cloth (spinning, weaving and decoration) have always been clearly gender defined. Lately young men have also taken up the task of painting cloths, most of it aimed at the tourist market.

More Mud Cloth in Designs

Use art to nurture your soul…


I recently had the honor and pleasure of visiting the James E. Lewis Museum of Art in Baltimore, MD. The museum is located on Morgan State University’s campus. I actually went down to share some knowledge via a poetic performance with an organization called My Brother, My Sister, and was offered a tour of the campus. It is absolutely amazing what Morgan is developing into, and I enjoyed being in the atmosphere of aspiring scholars. It had been a while since I last stepped foot on a HBCU campus. Talk about exciting! I myself, studied at Fisk University and the art museum there had been going through some hard times due to a very expensive collection of wonderful art that has been there for years. The school was facing financial difficulty and wanted to use the art to sort of “save” the campus. Having been a connoisseur of the fine collection after writing a paper or two about it, I personally did not want to see the collection go. Seeing Morgan’s museum gave me hope!

James E. Lewis

It is everything an art museum on a HBCU campus should be! It had a warm energy that penetrated my soul. There was color everywhere! Not the pastels of a normal art museums, but the deep earthy tones of Afrikan, Asian, & Latin American cultures. My radar immediately zoomed in on the ceremonial masks, the fertility statues, the mud cloths, the cubism paintings reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence who was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance- it was all so breath-taking. I enjoyed the recognition of Afrikan cultures the most as it spoke more to who and what I am. Where I live, there is no African American Museum of Art so when I am in a city that has one, I go for it!

I enjoy that a lot of African American artists are still painting from within. In a world where mixed-medium art is the trend, I find it quite refreshing to see painting and the mixing of colors and stroking of brushes. Art is in layers, just like the heart. Paint from the heart and not for money. 

The museum features both established and emerging artists so that says something for itself! You don’t have to die to get your art in a museum. I enjoyed that it was multicultural and found it important to include art from around the world because students should have a taste of many cultures. This can create a more well-rounded person with a more stable identity, something that African American students are in great need [of].

Speaking of identity.

As this pertains to your African Essence, it’s all about choosing your identity. Identity comes from within. Seeing this art exhibit spoke to something inside of me. The colors reminded me of something I had seen in a past life. I seek culture. I cannot live without knowing Afrika. I know that I descend from this continent and honestly it hurts sometimes to know you are from a place where you don’t even have real access to. Forever stolen, I try to cope. Without knowledge and acknowledgement of where you are from, your spirit will be constantly torn and confused and you will constantly self-hate. I heard an African American say the other day “I can’t stand Black people.” Sadly this is not the first time I heard this. Every time I hear it, I am in awe. I ask, how can you make a blanket comment like that and claim to love yourself? I know there are a lot of mistakes being made by the African American community, with the whole buying into the media and ignoring our own identities, selling material and verbal bulls*#@ to our youth, etc., but this is not reason to hate. Especially going around saying this in front of whomever! That’s nonsense.

Let’s live with the mindset, “if you are not part of the solution, than you are part of the problem.” People who hate like this are obviously part of the problem. It’s like those African and African American people who aren’t attracted to their own race, who actually say this out loud. No one says that you cannot cross cultures when dating but to say that you aren’t attracted to someone who looks like you is worthy of much shame. When one makes uncalculated comments like this, there is reason to believe that that person is having an identity crisis. Self-hate is so prevalent in our culture.

The museum on Morgan States campus is definitely something to visit. In addition to having a great art museum, they also have a great new library. It is what we call “state of the art.” It is still in its new phases, still in the process of acquiring a real collection, but I am sure it will get there. After seeing all this, getting a $30 ticket for parking on the street in front of the campus didn’t feel so bad!

Peace & Love,

Queen Duafe for African Essence