We Don’t Just Tell the Story–We WEAR the Story!

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(There was no room in this collage to give a description of the bottom photos.  At left is the Seminole patchwork jacket adorned with mudcloth from Ghana, mudcloth cap, and accompanied by a Seminole patchwork vest and  mudcloth and liberation earrings (Shaz Gallery of Brooklyn jewelry designs).  Perfect for packing to wear at my NABS workshop on African-Amerindian Connections.  (At right, one of those NABS Vendors’ Marketplace finds I couldn’t resist–a mudcloth “mosaic” coat that is still stopping traffic (sidewalk traffic at least) whenever I wear it with that sassy matching hat, pants, and bag).  Didn’t have an inch of room in my luggage to pack it after NABS 2012, so I wore it home–and have been joyfully wearing it ever since.)
Among the myriad cultural delights of the annual NABS Festivals are beholding the warm-spirited multi-talented griots as they resplendently bring the ancestral Village to the varied national venues of the festival, telling the age-old story in word, song, dance, and most definitely in artistic attire.  One can dress casually and comfortably at NABS and feel right at home; then one can also “fall out sharp”, as the Tennessee elders would say, in Africancentric attire, turning heads and lifting minds wherever one steps through not only telling the story but wearing the story.
A special part of the exciting itinerary at the Festival are visits to the Vendors’ Marketplace where one can find all manner of eye-catching, reasonably-priced outfits, jewelry, and home decor for the outer self as well as books, music, and spoken Word items to usher the mind and soul to new levels of knowledge, wisdom, and relaxed enjoyment.  NABS attendees are passionate about supporting the businesses of our people, so not only do many return home with luggage bulging with new outfits, literature, and music, but to encourage further support and appreciation of the global vendors and their unique offerings, the Vendors’ Marketplace is also set aside as a site for “Village Storytelling” and/or welcoming first-time attendees of the festival.
Attending NABS provides a treasure chest of enduring cultural memories and to top it off, if one is so inclined, a closet full of wearable art to grace one’s being until one can return to share, shop, listen, learn, and be both elevated and motivated at the next unforgettable NABS  Festival venue.
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Top left, Former Festival Director Br. Akbar Imhotep of Atlanta, a proud African storyteller shining forth like the sun in rich gold–a perfect place to stand in front of the colorful quilt of beautifully attired queen sisters;  bottom left, Baba Jamal  Koram (left) of North Carolina and Oba William King (right) of Chicago, master drummers and griots, who dress the story as skillfully as they drum, sing, and share the Word.)  Check out the unique, patchwork vest of Brother Dylan Pritchett (right) of Virginia another former NABS Festival Director.  As he accepts the award for his dedicated service, he’s accompanied by a Br. Dylan doll which just has to be a fabulous  Kooki Davis creation.  The l’il brother has evidently had a busy day catching all of the NABS sights and sounds.  He had to kick off those shoes and give his feet a break!  )

NABS is replete with Africancentric scholars, researchers, artists and performers covering the waterfront of griot contributions.  When we gather, as mentioned in this post, one will find a diverse range of beautiful ancestral garments including geles and ensembles made from the cloth purchased or imported from the Continent.  Here are a couple of titles of possible interest in regard to this attire displayed in our “wearing the story”:

HEADWRAPS – A Global Journey – Georgia Scott.  Public Affairs, NY. 2003.

INDIGO – In Search of the Color That Seduced the World – Catherine E. McKinley.  Bloomsbury USA, NY, 2011.

—Linda Cousins-Newton
Brooklyn, NY
copyright (c) Ancestral ProMotions 2014
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2 comments on “We Don’t Just Tell the Story–We WEAR the Story!

  1. Sandra says:

    This is why I pack light when I go to NABS — must have room for my new purchases!

  2. Sharon Holley says:

    They all know when NABS is in town…everything brightens with the colors of the universe and Africa shows up and out. Congrats to the fabulous fabric artist of NABS, such as Gloria Kellon and Kooki Davis and others as we await your next creation.

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