Heres the video to my poem “Bring Back Our Girls.” Bringing light to the issues going on in Nigeria, our voices are all we have now.

Twitter: @theresa_lola

Tumblr: http://creativeshot.tumblr.com

deebott:

dynastylnoire:

shartichoke:

thekingsvoice:

theblacklittlemermaid:

nikkisshadetree:

iknowwhythesongbirdsings:

africaisdonesuffering:

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Pray the Depression Away”

yesterday, she finally mustered the courage to call her mother. with shaking hands and cracking voice, she told her how she couldn’t sleep. she couldn’t eat. her body felt heavy. something was inside of her that didn’t quite belong. the something was sitting on her chest. breathing was harder. thinking was harder. she told her what the doctor said. it was depression. her mother on the other end of the line sucked her teeth. she didn’t believe in such things. all her daughter needed to do was pray. she just needed to attend church more, read her bible more. nothing was wrong with her, it was juju. it was god testing. and so she went to church. she sat in the front pew, eyes fixated on the pastor. and when it was time for altar call, she peeled herself from the wooden seat to stand in the front. people surrounded her. they prayed, and screamed and placed holy water on her head. this would fix her they told her. she would be better. and so she went home, she opened her bible to psalms 121. she prayed harder, went to church every sunday. she would be fixed she told herself, all she needed was more god. but months past and the darkness inside of her began to spill over. she no longer enjoyed the activities she once did. her night walks in the park became nights of sitting in the dark. curtains closed, door locked. she no longer wrote poetry or baked her favorite hershey cookies. she barely slept and her mouth was sewed shut rejecting food and water. she was sinking deeper. god wasn’t fixing her. praying wasn’t fixing her. and so she reached for the white pills that sat next to her bible. 3 at a time she threw them down her throat. if she couldn’t pray the depression away, she would kill it.

-Bilphena Yahwon

Please read this.

There’s such a stigma against the ills of mental health in the black community. Prayer is great, but it doesn’t solve everything.

Americanah from Ngozi Adichie protayes it well also with Ifemelu’s bad start in America :s

This is real man

the realest shit ever.

seriously.

to find counselors and therapists in your area based upon race/gender/specialties go to psychologytoday.com and visit their doctor directory.

Honestly this is almost exactly what happened to me. I told my mother in the same fashion that I was going through depression and she didnt believe me until I called her after almost destroying one of the only relationships I have ever wanted. She finally said You need to seek help to get a real reading on what is happening to you she never once said sorry to me for not believing me the first time but she does encourage me to seek help.

deebott:

dynastylnoire:

shartichoke:

thekingsvoice:

theblacklittlemermaid:

nikkisshadetree:

iknowwhythesongbirdsings:

africaisdonesuffering:

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Pray the Depression Away”
yesterday, she finally mustered the courage to call her mother. with shaking hands and cracking voice, she told her how she couldn’t sleep. she couldn’t eat. her body felt heavy. something was inside of her that didn’t quite belong. the something was sitting on her chest. breathing was harder. thinking was harder. she told her what the doctor said. it was depression. her mother on the other end of the line sucked her teeth. she didn’t believe in such things. all her daughter needed to do was pray. she just needed to attend church more, read her bible more. nothing was wrong with her, it was juju. it was god testing. and so she went to church. she sat in the front pew, eyes fixated on the pastor. and when it was time for altar call, she peeled herself from the wooden seat to stand in the front. people surrounded her. they prayed, and screamed and placed holy water on her head. this would fix her they told her. she would be better. and so she went home, she opened her bible to psalms 121. she prayed harder, went to church every sunday. she would be fixed she told herself, all she needed was more god. but months past and the darkness inside of her began to spill over. she no longer enjoyed the activities she once did. her night walks in the park became nights of sitting in the dark. curtains closed, door locked. she no longer wrote poetry or baked her favorite hershey cookies. she barely slept and her mouth was sewed shut rejecting food and water. she was sinking deeper. god wasn’t fixing her. praying wasn’t fixing her. and so she reached for the white pills that sat next to her bible. 3 at a time she threw them down her throat. if she couldn’t pray the depression away, she would kill it.
-Bilphena Yahwon

Please read this.

There’s such a stigma against the ills of mental health in the black community. Prayer is great, but it doesn’t solve everything.

Americanah from Ngozi Adichie protayes it well also with Ifemelu’s bad start in America :s

This is real man

the realest shit ever.

seriously.
to find counselors and therapists in your area based upon race/gender/specialties go to psychologytoday.com and visit their doctor directory.

Honestly this is almost exactly what happened to me. I told my mother in the same fashion that I was going through depression and she didnt believe me until I called her after almost destroying one of the only relationships I have ever wanted. She finally said You need to seek help to get a real reading on what is happening to you she never once said sorry to me for not believing me the first time but she does encourage me to seek help.
High-res

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Pray the Depression Away”

yesterday, she finally mustered the courage to call her mother. with shaking hands and cracking voice, she told her how she couldn’t sleep. she couldn’t eat. her body felt heavy. something was inside of her that didn’t quite belong. the something was sitting on her chest. breathing was harder. thinking was harder. she told her what the doctor said. it was depression. her mother on the other end of the line sucked her teeth. she didn’t believe in such things. all her daughter needed to do was pray. she just needed to attend church more, read her bible more. nothing was wrong with her, it was juju. it was god testing. and so she went to church. she sat in the front pew, eyes fixated on the pastor. and when it was time for altar call, she peeled herself from the wooden seat to stand in the front. people surrounded her. they prayed, and screamed and placed holy water on her head. this would fix her they told her. she would be better. and so she went home, she opened her bible to psalms 121. she prayed harder, went to church every sunday. she would be fixed she told herself, all she needed was more god. but months past and the darkness inside of her began to spill over. she no longer enjoyed the activities she once did. her night walks in the park became nights of sitting in the dark. curtains closed, door locked. she no longer wrote poetry or baked her favorite hershey cookies. she barely slept and her mouth was sewed shut rejecting food and water. she was sinking deeper. god wasn’t fixing her. praying wasn’t fixing her. and so she reached for the white pills that sat next to her bible. 3 at a time she threw them down her throat. if she couldn’t pray the depression away, she would kill it.

-Bilphena Yahwon

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Pray the Depression Away”
yesterday, she finally mustered the courage to call her mother. with shaking hands and cracking voice, she told her how she couldn’t sleep. she couldn’t eat. her body felt heavy. something was inside of her that didn’t quite belong. the something was sitting on her chest. breathing was harder. thinking was harder. she told her what the doctor said. it was depression. her mother on the other end of the line sucked her teeth. she didn’t believe in such things. all her daughter needed to do was pray. she just needed to attend church more, read her bible more. nothing was wrong with her, it was juju. it was god testing. and so she went to church. she sat in the front pew, eyes fixated on the pastor. and when it was time for altar call, she peeled herself from the wooden seat to stand in the front. people surrounded her. they prayed, and screamed and placed holy water on her head. this would fix her they told her. she would be better. and so she went home, she opened her bible to psalms 121. she prayed harder, went to church every sunday. she would be fixed she told herself, all she needed was more god. but months past and the darkness inside of her began to spill over. she no longer enjoyed the activities she once did. her night walks in the park became nights of sitting in the dark. curtains closed, door locked. she no longer wrote poetry or baked her favorite hershey cookies. she barely slept and her mouth was sewed shut rejecting food and water. she was sinking deeper. god wasn’t fixing her. praying wasn’t fixing her. and so she reached for the white pills that sat next to her bible. 3 at a time she threw them down her throat. if she couldn’t pray the depression away, she would kill it.
-Bilphena Yahwon High-res

Domesticated Religions or Faiths of the Oppressors: Islam and Christianity in Africa

Time and again in discussions about Africa and spirituality arises this idea that Christianity and Islam are faiths of the oppressors; that the practice of these religions not only served to crush indigenous beliefs on the continent but that they are also symbols of an Africa which has embraced the tools its oppressors used in their (old and new) quests to dominate the African peoples. Those who profess such arguments however seem to miss a very crucial point: although the instrumentalization of religion in the various brutalizations committed against Africans cannot be ignored, the introduction of Christianity and Islam go far beyond imperialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and colonization.

The narratives of Islam and Christianity making their way into the African continent through, respectively, the Arabs conquering and forcibly converting the North and the missionaries sent by empires set on sharing a piece of the “African cake” are problematic and ahistorical. They erase, for example, the long legacy of the Christian religion in Ethiopia, which dates back as early as the 1st century AD. And Islam, on the other hand, was practiced on the continent since the 7th century AD when the religion was still new and persecuted Muslims sought refuge in Africa by migrating to what was then known as the kingdom of Axum. While both religions are not indigenous to Africa, they have been domesticated by African people, as both Christianity and Islam have been practiced on the continent “for nearly as long as they have existed” (Olupona 89). (read more)

Domesticated Religions or Faiths of the Oppressors: Islam and Christianity in Africa
Time and again in discussions about Africa and spirituality arises this idea that Christianity and Islam are faiths of the oppressors; that the practice of these religions not only served to crush indigenous beliefs on the continent but that they are also symbols of an Africa which has embraced the tools its oppressors used in their (old and new) quests to dominate the African peoples. Those who profess such arguments however seem to miss a very crucial point: although the instrumentalization of religion in the various brutalizations committed against Africans cannot be ignored, the introduction of Christianity and Islam go far beyond imperialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and colonization.
The narratives of Islam and Christianity making their way into the African continent through, respectively, the Arabs conquering and forcibly converting the North and the missionaries sent by empires set on sharing a piece of the “African cake” are problematic and ahistorical. They erase, for example, the long legacy of the Christian religion in Ethiopia, which dates back as early as the 1st century AD. And Islam, on the other hand, was practiced on the continent since the 7th century AD when the religion was still new and persecuted Muslims sought refuge in Africa by migrating to what was then known as the kingdom of Axum. While both religions are not indigenous to Africa, they have been domesticated by African people, as both Christianity and Islam have been practiced on the continent “for nearly as long as they have existed” (Olupona 89). (read more) High-res

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “1953 - How I Wear My Crown”

As a young girl, I always enjoyed watching my mother in the mirror on Sundays wrapping her hair. I admired the artistry of it all and how regal she looked. My freshman year of college, I started wrapping my hair also, mimicking what I saw my mother doing in the mirror.  My head wraps became a part of my identity.

I enjoy wrapping my hair up with vibrant pieces taken from my mother’s closet. I enjoy walking down the street and having people stare because they’ve never seen such a pattern. Most importantly, wrapping my head with fabric from my mother’s closet connects me to my home of Liberia despite the oceans that separate us. Each pattern, color and style has a story and history of its own. I am carrying a piece of home and a story on my head. This is why I am so drawn to 1953, a head wrap collection by Folasade Adeoso.

Inspired by her father and his birth year, 1953, Folasade started this collection not only in honor of her father but to also share a piece of her home (Nigeria), with other women. The pieces in 1953 are handmade in Nigeria and handpicked by Folasade throughout local markets in Nigeria.  With this collection, she seeks to promote individuality in all women. It is a celebration of women and all of our unique beauties. So whether you are in an elegant evening dress or simply sporting jeans and flats, you can still wear your crown.

africaisdonesuffering:

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Michel Foucault’s Discourse and Africa”

“I don’t waste food, there are starving kids in Africa”

“We should appreciate what we have, you know? There are people suffering in Africa.”

“Appreciate the rights you have in America, I know in Africa people have no rights.”

Here are 3 of my favorite quotes from conversations I had this week. I cannot count the amount of times Africa is used as an example for why I should appreciate the economic, social and political freedoms presented to me in the United States of America. I mean, let’s be honest, these statements summarize America’s outlook on the rest of the world. Appreciate America because *insert country here* does not allow you to *insert right here*

Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard someone say “you should appreciate what you have because there are people in America suffering”? More than likely, you’ve never heard this before. Making such a statement would be seen as ludicrous to many, they may even ask “how can you generalize such a big country?” It is so easy to see America as a diverse country divided into 50 states with different economic situations. While Africa, a continent that is far bigger than America, is portrayed as one big country lacking diversity. Furthermore, it is assumed that every good thing a nation should possess, America already does. This thinking is influenced by discourse.

(read more)

africaisdonesuffering:

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Michel Foucault’s Discourse and Africa”
“I don’t waste food, there are starving kids in Africa”
“We should appreciate what we have, you know? There are people suffering in Africa.”
“Appreciate the rights you have in America, I know in Africa people have no rights.”
Here are 3 of my favorite quotes from conversations I had this week. I cannot count the amount of times Africa is used as an example for why I should appreciate the economic, social and political freedoms presented to me in the United States of America. I mean, let’s be honest, these statements summarize America’s outlook on the rest of the world. Appreciate America because *insert country here* does not allow you to *insert right here*
Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard someone say “you should appreciate what you have because there are people in America suffering”? More than likely, you’ve never heard this before. Making such a statement would be seen as ludicrous to many, they may even ask “how can you generalize such a big country?” It is so easy to see America as a diverse country divided into 50 states with different economic situations. While Africa, a continent that is far bigger than America, is portrayed as one big country lacking diversity. Furthermore, it is assumed that every good thing a nation should possess, America already does. This thinking is influenced by discourse.
(read more) High-res

africaisdonesuffering:

July 2014: “Let Us Pray”

We are an Arab, Muslim nation, anyone who does not like it can go,” said Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir. Soon after 2011 was the year when majority Christian Sudanese left Sudan, and formed South Sudan.  In 1989 Sudan undertook a cultural project, which denounced the multi-ethnic, culturally rich Sudan and replaced it with an Islamic theocracy—a religious nation state. In the early years, many women and children fell at the mercy of officers who either humiliated or punished them. Even though the diktats, or rules have loosened over time, occasionally a sweep reminded Sudan’s citizens of what it means to live in a nations whose rules are one in the same as religious rules interpreted by the few for the many.

Sudan is not the only nation that has struggled with keeping church and state separate. Currently, Boko Haram has become a household name for its extremist terrorist bombings, abductions, and rapes of all opposed to strict sharia law. Over 70 days ago, the organization abducted over 300 schoolgirls form their campus in the middle of the night. While about 50 girls escaped, the remaining girls have not been found. Since the abduction, there have been more abductions, killings, and bombings, all in the name of Allah.

All over the continent from the Central African Republic, to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Africans wage religious wars all in the name of God. How often are these wars publicly about religion but privately about politics, control, resources, land, and centuries old family disputes?

There is no doubt that African continent is one of the most religious communities in the world. There are churches and mosques in every major city and most rural communities. Even with houses of God casting long shadows of African communities, what have Africans gained from their deeply seeded faith?  Extremist religion has been used in very political ways to criminalize inter-religious marriagehomosexuality, and maintain grave gendered education gap. With a reality as dangerous as that is religion a sword used to cut down the disobedient, and outspoken in society, or staff guiding us together to a life of harmony?

Have Africans accepted the faith of their oppressors without examining the role those religions played in taking over their cultures, traditions, and communities? What role has religion played in some of the most heinous atrocities on the continent? How can religion bring healing where it is the cause of so much distrust and animosity?

Have Christianity and Islam truly made the continent a better place? Is it possible that what we lost was far more precious, more natural, more humane, or is it the interpretations of these foreign religions that has lead to so much violence? Is there room on the continent for indigenous religions as well as more modern faiths? Can the past and future live comfortably together?

This month in Rise Africa we will explore all of these questions and more. Our goal is to develop a connected and empowered global African community, one that has the confidence to speak their voice and the awareness to engage in productive conversations with one another about the shared and unique lives we live as Africans and members of the African Diaspora. We imagine an Africa where we’re all involved. With that being said, as always we value your participation. Share your experiences with, and reflections on conflict on the continent with the Rise Africa community. If you, or someone you know would be interested in participating in this series, we encourage you to contribute. Visit our “Submit a Guest post” page for more information on the guest contribution process and e-mail us at info@africaisdonesuffering.com if you have additional questions. Click here to access all articles under our July 2014 theme.

africaisdonesuffering:

July 2014: “Let Us Pray”
“We are an Arab, Muslim nation, anyone who does not like it can go,” said Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir. Soon after 2011 was the year when majority Christian Sudanese left Sudan, and formed South Sudan.  In 1989 Sudan undertook a cultural project, which denounced the multi-ethnic, culturally rich Sudan and replaced it with an Islamic theocracy—a religious nation state. In the early years, many women and children fell at the mercy of officers who either humiliated or punished them. Even though the diktats, or rules have loosened over time, occasionally a sweep reminded Sudan’s citizens of what it means to live in a nations whose rules are one in the same as religious rules interpreted by the few for the many.
Sudan is not the only nation that has struggled with keeping church and state separate. Currently, Boko Haram has become a household name for its extremist terrorist bombings, abductions, and rapes of all opposed to strict sharia law. Over 70 days ago, the organization abducted over 300 schoolgirls form their campus in the middle of the night. While about 50 girls escaped, the remaining girls have not been found. Since the abduction, there have been more abductions, killings, and bombings, all in the name of Allah.
All over the continent from the Central African Republic, to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Africans wage religious wars all in the name of God. How often are these wars publicly about religion but privately about politics, control, resources, land, and centuries old family disputes?
There is no doubt that African continent is one of the most religious communities in the world. There are churches and mosques in every major city and most rural communities. Even with houses of God casting long shadows of African communities, what have Africans gained from their deeply seeded faith?  Extremist religion has been used in very political ways to criminalize inter-religious marriage, homosexuality, and maintain grave gendered education gap. With a reality as dangerous as that is religion a sword used to cut down the disobedient, and outspoken in society, or staff guiding us together to a life of harmony?
Have Africans accepted the faith of their oppressors without examining the role those religions played in taking over their cultures, traditions, and communities? What role has religion played in some of the most heinous atrocities on the continent? How can religion bring healing where it is the cause of so much distrust and animosity?
Have Christianity and Islam truly made the continent a better place? Is it possible that what we lost was far more precious, more natural, more humane, or is it the interpretations of these foreign religions that has lead to so much violence? Is there room on the continent for indigenous religions as well as more modern faiths? Can the past and future live comfortably together?
This month in Rise Africa we will explore all of these questions and more. Our goal is to develop a connected and empowered global African community, one that has the confidence to speak their voice and the awareness to engage in productive conversations with one another about the shared and unique lives we live as Africans and members of the African Diaspora. We imagine an Africa where we’re all involved. With that being said, as always we value your participation. Share your experiences with, and reflections on conflict on the continent with the Rise Africa community. If you, or someone you know would be interested in participating in this series, we encourage you to contribute. Visit our “Submit a Guest post” page for more information on the guest contribution process and e-mail us at info@africaisdonesuffering.com if you have additional questions. Click here to access all articles under our July 2014 theme.

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Michel Foucault’s Discourse and Africa”

“I don’t waste food, there are starving kids in Africa”

“We should appreciate what we have, you know? There are people suffering in Africa.”

“Appreciate the rights you have in America, I know in Africa people have no rights.”

Here are 3 of my favorite quotes from conversations I had this week. I cannot count the amount of times Africa is used as an example for why I should appreciate the economic, social and political freedoms presented to me in the United States of America. I mean, let’s be honest, these statements summarize America’s outlook on the rest of the world. Appreciate America because *insert country here* does not allow you to *insert right here*

Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard someone say “you should appreciate what you have because there are people in America suffering”? More than likely, you’ve never heard this before. Making such a statement would be seen as ludicrous to many, they may even ask “how can you generalize such a big country?” It is so easy to see America as a diverse country divided into 50 states with different economic situations. While Africa, a continent that is far bigger than America, is portrayed as one big country lacking diversity. Furthermore, it is assumed that every good thing a nation should possess, America already does. This thinking is influenced by discourse.

(read more)

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “Michel Foucault’s Discourse and Africa”
“I don’t waste food, there are starving kids in Africa”
“We should appreciate what we have, you know? There are people suffering in Africa.”
“Appreciate the rights you have in America, I know in Africa people have no rights.”
Here are 3 of my favorite quotes from conversations I had this week. I cannot count the amount of times Africa is used as an example for why I should appreciate the economic, social and political freedoms presented to me in the United States of America. I mean, let’s be honest, these statements summarize America’s outlook on the rest of the world. Appreciate America because *insert country here* does not allow you to *insert right here*
Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard someone say “you should appreciate what you have because there are people in America suffering”? More than likely, you’ve never heard this before. Making such a statement would be seen as ludicrous to many, they may even ask “how can you generalize such a big country?” It is so easy to see America as a diverse country divided into 50 states with different economic situations. While Africa, a continent that is far bigger than America, is portrayed as one big country lacking diversity. Furthermore, it is assumed that every good thing a nation should possess, America already does. This thinking is influenced by discourse.
(read more) High-res

July 2014: “Let Us Pray”

We are an Arab, Muslim nation, anyone who does not like it can go,” said Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir. Soon after 2011 was the year when majority Christian Sudanese left Sudan, and formed South Sudan.  In 1989 Sudan undertook a cultural project, which denounced the multi-ethnic, culturally rich Sudan and replaced it with an Islamic theocracy—a religious nation state. In the early years, many women and children fell at the mercy of officers who either humiliated or punished them. Even though the diktats, or rules have loosened over time, occasionally a sweep reminded Sudan’s citizens of what it means to live in a nations whose rules are one in the same as religious rules interpreted by the few for the many.

Sudan is not the only nation that has struggled with keeping church and state separate. Currently, Boko Haram has become a household name for its extremist terrorist bombings, abductions, and rapes of all opposed to strict sharia law. Over 70 days ago, the organization abducted over 300 schoolgirls form their campus in the middle of the night. While about 50 girls escaped, the remaining girls have not been found. Since the abduction, there have been more abductions, killings, and bombings, all in the name of Allah.

All over the continent from the Central African Republic, to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Africans wage religious wars all in the name of God. How often are these wars publicly about religion but privately about politics, control, resources, land, and centuries old family disputes?

There is no doubt that African continent is one of the most religious communities in the world. There are churches and mosques in every major city and most rural communities. Even with houses of God casting long shadows of African communities, what have Africans gained from their deeply seeded faith?  Extremist religion has been used in very political ways to criminalize inter-religious marriagehomosexuality, and maintain grave gendered education gap. With a reality as dangerous as that is religion a sword used to cut down the disobedient, and outspoken in society, or staff guiding us together to a life of harmony?

Have Africans accepted the faith of their oppressors without examining the role those religions played in taking over their cultures, traditions, and communities? What role has religion played in some of the most heinous atrocities on the continent? How can religion bring healing where it is the cause of so much distrust and animosity?

Have Christianity and Islam truly made the continent a better place? Is it possible that what we lost was far more precious, more natural, more humane, or is it the interpretations of these foreign religions that has lead to so much violence? Is there room on the continent for indigenous religions as well as more modern faiths? Can the past and future live comfortably together?

This month in Rise Africa we will explore all of these questions and more. Our goal is to develop a connected and empowered global African community, one that has the confidence to speak their voice and the awareness to engage in productive conversations with one another about the shared and unique lives we live as Africans and members of the African Diaspora. We imagine an Africa where we’re all involved. With that being said, as always we value your participation. Share your experiences with, and reflections on conflict on the continent with the Rise Africa community. If you, or someone you know would be interested in participating in this series, we encourage you to contribute. Visit our “Submit a Guest post” page for more information on the guest contribution process and e-mail us at info@africaisdonesuffering.com if you have additional questions. Click here to access all articles under our July 2014 theme.

July 2014: “Let Us Pray”
“We are an Arab, Muslim nation, anyone who does not like it can go,” said Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir. Soon after 2011 was the year when majority Christian Sudanese left Sudan, and formed South Sudan.  In 1989 Sudan undertook a cultural project, which denounced the multi-ethnic, culturally rich Sudan and replaced it with an Islamic theocracy—a religious nation state. In the early years, many women and children fell at the mercy of officers who either humiliated or punished them. Even though the diktats, or rules have loosened over time, occasionally a sweep reminded Sudan’s citizens of what it means to live in a nations whose rules are one in the same as religious rules interpreted by the few for the many.
Sudan is not the only nation that has struggled with keeping church and state separate. Currently, Boko Haram has become a household name for its extremist terrorist bombings, abductions, and rapes of all opposed to strict sharia law. Over 70 days ago, the organization abducted over 300 schoolgirls form their campus in the middle of the night. While about 50 girls escaped, the remaining girls have not been found. Since the abduction, there have been more abductions, killings, and bombings, all in the name of Allah.
All over the continent from the Central African Republic, to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Africans wage religious wars all in the name of God. How often are these wars publicly about religion but privately about politics, control, resources, land, and centuries old family disputes?
There is no doubt that African continent is one of the most religious communities in the world. There are churches and mosques in every major city and most rural communities. Even with houses of God casting long shadows of African communities, what have Africans gained from their deeply seeded faith?  Extremist religion has been used in very political ways to criminalize inter-religious marriage, homosexuality, and maintain grave gendered education gap. With a reality as dangerous as that is religion a sword used to cut down the disobedient, and outspoken in society, or staff guiding us together to a life of harmony?
Have Africans accepted the faith of their oppressors without examining the role those religions played in taking over their cultures, traditions, and communities? What role has religion played in some of the most heinous atrocities on the continent? How can religion bring healing where it is the cause of so much distrust and animosity?
Have Christianity and Islam truly made the continent a better place? Is it possible that what we lost was far more precious, more natural, more humane, or is it the interpretations of these foreign religions that has lead to so much violence? Is there room on the continent for indigenous religions as well as more modern faiths? Can the past and future live comfortably together?
This month in Rise Africa we will explore all of these questions and more. Our goal is to develop a connected and empowered global African community, one that has the confidence to speak their voice and the awareness to engage in productive conversations with one another about the shared and unique lives we live as Africans and members of the African Diaspora. We imagine an Africa where we’re all involved. With that being said, as always we value your participation. Share your experiences with, and reflections on conflict on the continent with the Rise Africa community. If you, or someone you know would be interested in participating in this series, we encourage you to contribute. Visit our “Submit a Guest post” page for more information on the guest contribution process and e-mail us at info@africaisdonesuffering.com if you have additional questions. Click here to access all articles under our July 2014 theme.

Women in Africa and the Diaspora: “The Art of Hair”

J.D. Okhai Ojeikere (1930-2014) a Nigerian photographer, documented the captivating hairstyles of young Nigerian women in the late 1960s. His Hairstyle Series consists of over a thousand pictures of fashionable African inspired hairstyles and is the largest of his archive to date. Ojeikere passed away at the age of 83 on the afternoon of February 2nd these pictures, there is no doubt that many of the hairstyles we now wear were inspired by African women. Here are a few of my favorites from the series.

-Bilphena Yahwon