Hairstyles

Welcome back as we return to discuss “Classic Man” by Jidenna for the last time! For my last blog, I’d like to turn our attention to the interesting hairstyles shown throughout the video, specifically on the females that we see. I found the men’s hairstyles interesting as well, but I found many of them to be similar to each other, while I saw a wide range of different hairstyles on all of the women. I had zero doubts that there would be a large historical context behind this, so I thought it would be perfect for our last blog.

In Nigeria, special hairstyles are a way for a woman to enhance her femininity. Hairdressing is a very renowned tradition between female family members. It is passed down from mothers to young girls, where they apply both skill and imagination to this elaborate form of art. I found it interesting that it is such an important and well-known craft in Nigeria that every Nigerian woman knows the basic elements of hair braiding. Some of these women make it their profession, and have established places of work in stalls and sheds in the market place where they live (Ogunwale).

The basic working tools of hairdressing in Nigeria include wooden or blastic combs, black thread, a mirror, ikoti, which is a long needle, a blade, and a locally made perfume called adin (Ogunwale).

It is also very easy and common to be able to identify where a woman is from by her hairstyle. The hairdos give off very strong hints at the regional differences between women in Africa. For example, in the Midwest and Eastern States, women prefer to crease their hair over with black thread rather than formal hairdressing. In the North, the Hausa and Fulani women have a specific hairstyle and complicated head dress that are unique to themselves (Ogunwale).

Hairstyles are often a representation of a specific trend in fashion or important event. An example of this is Gowon, which is named after the Head of State in Nigera, Major-General Yakubu Gowon. He is known as the “Soldier of Peace.” Other examples are ogun pari, which means the end of the civil war, Eko Bridge, which is the new Lagos bridge, and Bebedi, which are beads worn around a woman. These hairstyles are very common in the cities of Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, and Ilorin (Ogunwale).

Though there has been a change in hairstyles all around the world, it is still very common to see traditional Nigerian hairdos still worn on women today. People that come from other parts of Africa, America, and the West Indies, and often seen replicating the look of Nigerian hairstyles. After seeing some examples of these hairstyles, I can see that! I have definitely seen similar looking hairstyles in my life. 

After doing some digging into the background context of these African hairstyles, I am definitely interested in learning some more about it, and I hope that it interested you too! Thank you for returning one last time to read about Jidenna’s “Classic Man” music video; I hope you enjoyed it and learned as much as I did. 🙂

Ogunwale, Titus A. “Traditional Hairdressing in Nigeria.” African Arts, vol. 5, no. 3, 1972, pp. 44–45. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3334568.

Alcohol

Welcome back everybody! As I continue to discuss the music video “Classic Man” by Jidenna, this blog will shift gears and move towards discussing the portrayal of alcohol in the video. Consistently throughout the video, there are multiple party scenes in which everyone is dancing and having a good time. The common factor in all of these party scenes, however, is the alcohol. In nearly every party scene, the people in attendance are either holding an alcoholic beverage, or are surrounded by bottles and glasses. This sparked my interest in the significance of the alcohol throughout the video, if it was maybe trying to send a message,and how it may relate to African history. 

The production and usage of alcohol in Africa has long touched on many different themes and issues, including economic, medical, social, and religious uses. There has been a large scale transformation is alcohol uses since the “traditional” patters from the pre-1800s, which were made up of fermented drinks, for example sorghum, millet beer, and palm wine (Bryceson 2004). These drinks were produced for ritual purposes in the colonial period. Also during this time, male elders living in urban or rural areas would produce sugar based and distilled alcoholic beverages. During this era was when drinking alcohol began to become more of a societal norm. I was surprised to find out that it was because of the increase of imported beer, as well as alcoholic beverages that were produced by states or agencies, specifically in Southern Africa (Bryceson 2014).

I also found that alcohol played a very significant and crucial role when it came to power and authority in the mid nineteenth century. During this time in East Africa, power was generally in the hands of elder men, and alcohol played a role in behavioral patterns of these men in power (Willis 2014). Willis also documented that women played a large role in the economy when it came to brewing alcohol. As I continued reading, I was very shocked to see that even though they did a majority in the work of producing alcohol, there was very little economic benefits for these women. It was very common for these drinkers to refuse to pay for the drinks they consumed, which I thought was ridiculous and surprised that that was tolerated. That also raises questions about gender roles and how the women were inferior to the powerful men that I mentioned earlier. 

There were also multiple different responses to the alcohol consumption. Some people considered it a “desirable activity,” and a leisurely moment of pleasure, while others saw it as dangerous. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, some African men thought that bottled beer was dangerous, while in the 1950’s, it was seen as appropriate for educated men, and they began to think that fermented drinks were dangerous to health. 

With so much background surrounding the topic of alcohol, I now have a good understanding of why it was such a prominent image throughout the video. This blog just scratches the surface of all there is to learn about it, so I strongly encourage you to check it out some more!

Maxon, Robert M. “Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne Des Études Africaines.” Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne Des Études Africaines, vol. 38, no. 2, 2004, pp. 437–441. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4107310.

Social Status

Welcome back! In this next blog, I will be continuing to discuss Jidenna’s “Classic Man” music video. Something that really struck out to me as a theme in the video was social status. As we’ve mentioned before in previous blogs, the video depicts people in very fancy and elegant dress, who are obviously of high status, as well as the kids who almost get arrested, who seem to have less social presence. They seem to be heading down the wrong path until Jidenna steps in and exposes them to learning. This topic sparked my interest in digging deeper into the history behind what role social status plays in life in Africa. My discussion will focus a little deeper on women in Nigeria regarding this topic.

Factors such as age, natal status, royal ancestry, and religious affiliation are just a few factors that play a role in a women’s societal place, but their relationship with men have largely  affected their social status as a whole. Power has been granted to certain women, but not exactly on females as a whole, and these places of power often did not match up to have an equal status to a man with similar social components (Robertson).

  

In studying the Nigerian female elite, Kristin Mann recognized that women entered the colonial society in many of the African states as subordinates to males of high social status. For a women to have the proper social presence, they had to rely on their positions as housewives or some other type of connection to a male in social power. This included their social presence, along with formal education and wage employment (Mann). Women’s role in comparison to men is a topic that can be talked about everywhere and anywhere, but I just find it appalling that in order to receive proper schooling and a good job with good pay, among other things as well, that a woman had to rely on having a man somehow connected to her. Was that really how she could prove how “worthy” or “deserving” she is of these things?

During post- colonial regimes, these actions were accepted as normal and were completely overlooked and unquestioned by policy makers. What goes unnoticed is how essential women are in the things that they do. For example, the large majority of women who do work for the economy, especially in rural areas, play a large role in agriculture. They are responsible of making sure there are no threats to growth of population, scarcity of food, conservation of resources, and the maintenance of a feasible ecosystem. Though they have serious responsibility in what they do, I learned about how they still suffered from poor living conditions and are never partners with men when it comes to decision making. 

In Western Nigeria, it is argued that traditional Yoruba gender stratification gives women freedom, but also ingrains inequality, which is often “culturally legitimized” (Afonja). These inequalities have become the typical social arrangement, where women are expected to achieve both traditional and modern expectations of “what they are supposed to be.” This explains very well the strong decline of women’s status in post-colonial African states. 

Seeing as this is a very broad topic that has so much more to talk about, I encourage you to continue reading the article below for more information! Enjoy!

Phil E. Okeke. “Reconfiguring Tradition: Women’s Rights and Social Status in Contemporary Nigeria.” Africa Today, vol. 47, no. 1, 2000, pp. 49–63. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4187307.

Education

Welcome back! In this blog, we will return to discussing the music video “Classic Man” by Jidenna. There was another significant moment in the video that caught my eye. As Jidenna is walking down the street early in the video, he notices two young, colored boys across the street about to get arrested. He walks over, intervenes, and talks to the police officers, who allow Jidenna to take the boys with him. He takes them under his wing and goes to a school, where he introduces them to topics like science, chess, math, karate, and etiquette, along with many other skills. In trying to relate this video to our class, I found myself wondering about the education system in Africa and how it might relate.

The first European missionaries in Africa set up Christian schools in the late 15th century, but they were not seen as widespread until around the 19th century. In the 1920s, the British implemented an “adapted education system” in Africa, which was modeled after the American school system that was segregated. This lead to Africans demanding more schools and better curriculum. They even started some of their own schools. With education as a top priority, they were focused on implementing universal primary education and better opportunities for secondary and higher education. The education of women and children was also given more attention. SAP’s, or Structural Adjustment Programs, worked towards less government control over social services; education, for example. I found this interesting because I would’ve expected it to be difficult to install proper education in Africa without government interference. Nongovernmental organizations still continue today to make education affordable and accessible to all (Decker).

 

Another interesting topic is in regards to the Bantu Education system in Africa. It was a system of apartheid that legally distinguished differences between education of whites and blacks. In 1964, an average of $16 was spent on each African student, while an average of $215 was spent on each white pupil. The Bantu Education Act of 1953 was very much against the black community in terms of apartheid laws and systems. It’s major point was to enforce racially separated educational environments. There continued to be a back-and-forth relationship between the school separations as the years went on. In 1974, the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974 stated that both Afrikaans and English would be used as languages for instruction in schools. Then the Soweto Uprising of 1976 took place. This was an anti-apartheid protest led by black students as they boycotted the Bantu System, where close to 600 people died. The Education and Training Act of 1979 continued to racially segregate educational environments until the Interim Constitution of 1994, where the majority of sections from the Education and Training Act were repealed, declaring this segregation unconstitutional (Weeks).

To bring it back to class and the music video, I think that Jidenna really makes an effort to show how just because the boys in the video are of color, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the same opportunities and education as others, so he takes them to where they can explore those experiences, making a large impact and change in their lives. This is obviously such a broad topic that could be discussed to no end, so I encourage all of my readers to look further into it. It’s very interesting and there is so much to learn. See you next time!

 

https://www-jstor-org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/pdf/4184757.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Aa5c0b81c7248b43c77aee2026a9bfad8

 

https://www-jstor-org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/pdf/2315482.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Abfc1d57c5b66ede9a128c5d8703b1f87

 

https://www-jstor-org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/pdf/720949.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A346b7a4f5da7cca91b31d7a4a722d301

 

Women’s Fashion

In Jidenna’s music video “Classic Man”, a lot of emphasis is put on the fashion of Jidenna as well as all of the other men in the video. They are look very stylish and classy throughout the entire video, perfectly exhibiting the true “Classic Man” look that I discussed in my last post. After focusing so strongly on the male fashion and it’s importance, I rewatched the video to explore the other side of things and check out what was going on with the women’s fashion. With the center of attention on the sharp-dressed men in the video, it is likely that the women go unnoticed. The women’s attire changes throughout the video from sophisticated, to elegant, to other unique style choices and got me interested in looking into the history of women’s fashion, specifically in Nigeria. I was intrigued in seeing this because the focus of the video is on the men and their dress, so you’d think that the female side of it wouldn’t play as large of a role as it does.

Fashion has always played an important role in Nigerian lifestyle, because they take great pride in what they are wearing. In the 1960s, Shade Thomas-Fahm played a large role in the fashion industry of Nigeria. Women’s fashion included fitted and oversized silhouettes and mini-skirts similar to the style still found in Europe at the time. This is because Nigeria was very fresh off of post-colonialism. The 1970s were more of a funky and hip period, where there there was an increasing attraction to different proportions in clothing. Women often wore oversized sleeves with high-waist wrappers. The 1980s came around and a label called Labenella Creations played a large and popular part in the fashion industry. The label provided Nigeria’s women with kaftans, which are long loose dresses, and culottes, which are flowy knee-length pants. The 1990s proved to be a very hectic time in terms of military rule in Nigeria, so many designers left to work in other countries. A designer named Ade Bakare Couture kept prominent presence in Nigeria by organizing fashion shows and dressing Nigerian women. (Rovine) Something else that I found interesting was the different purposes that fashion can serve for women. For example, fashion may be used to improve social status, express the nature of society, or serve as a form of control in society. Fashion can also facilitate change, like when women dress in ways that reject their traditional female role. (Lauer)

What’s interesting about all the quick changes in Nigerian fashion is that it seems as if the music video tries to incorporate it all. There are many women in the background of the video, and their outfits are constantly changing. Each woman’s style also differs from the woman next to her as well. I think the different outfit changes each send a different message, referring to what I mentioned earlier in my post about what roles fashion played in women’s lives. The part that caught my attention the most was in the information regarding the 1960s, where it mentions how the style during that time was still a bit like the European fashion because of the recent switch to post-colonialism. I thought that this would relate to the class well because we often discuss about different African countries, and their move towards independence away from European countries. It is interesting to see that as the years go on, we see the fashion move further and further away from looking like European. As time goes on, we see less European influence in the fashion, as they are in the process of becoming their own nation, just as we often discuss in class. Thanks for reading, until next time!

References:

Admin. “A Brief History of Nigerian Fashion – Grey Velvet.” Grey Velvet, greyvelvetstores.com/a-brief-history-of-nigerian-fashion/.

LAUER, JEANETTE C., and ROBERT H. LAUER. “Fashion.” The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 4: Myth, Manners, and Memory, edited by CHARLES REAGAN WILSON, University of North Carolina Press, 2006, pp. 61–64. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9781469616704_wilson.17.

Rovine, Victoria L. “Reinventing Local Forms: AFRICAN FASHION, INDIGENOUS STYLE.” African Fashion, Global Style: Histories, Innovations, and Ideas You Can Wear, Indiana University Press, 2015, pp. 107–155. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt16gzk24.7.

 

What is a Classic Man?

While watching Jidenna’s music video, “Classic Man,” I was drawn to his fashion choices throughout the song. I was very curious about it’s significance and where it came from. Clothing choice has been an important way of differentiating cultures for a long time. Particular garments highlight cultural similarities and differences, emphasize cultural identity, and mesh cultures into similar frameworks (Rovine). This sparked my interest in how this fashion came about and how it relates to Jidenna. 

Jean Allman’s Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress explores the “ways in which power is represented, constituted, articulated, and contested through dress” (Hopkins). I found this interesting because you can see this Cleary in “Classic Man.” All throughout the video, Jidenna and the men around him are dressed in very sharp suits, exhibiting the true “classic man” look, giving them a look of confidence and certainty. 

Jidenna’s background also plays a role in the importance of fashion in “Classic Man.” His fashion in the video came about due to the fact that he was broke growing up. He talks about how he would go to thrift shops, which were made up of clothes often from previous generations, buy clothes for a small cost, and make them his own. “I was more concerned with “the fit” than fitting in (Jidenna, 2015). This then sparked my interest to look into the history of second-hand clothing in Africa. In Zambia, the term salaula references second-hand clothing imported from the West. This clothing trade expanded along with the liberalization of economies. Hansen explains how the clothing trade is an example of unequal North-South relations in Africa in her article, “Second-Hand Clothing Encounters In Zambia.” A man from Lusaka explained his love for salaula by saying that he did not like “common clothes and imitations,” but preferred something outstanding. With salaula, you find things and don’t even know how good they are. Another woman views salaula as exclusive because she doesn’t want to wear what everyone else is wearing (Hansen). I thought that this was a perfect comparison to Jidenna. Jidenna explains that the term “Classic Man”, to him, refers to how a person carries themselves in whatever they wear, whether it’s fancy clothes or not. In an interview, he says that you are a classic man when you have “a fit that’s tailored to you and your body” (Jidenna).

Another point that I found interesting was the history of the African textiles. The Dutch East India Company played a big role in trading in European markets, and saw a large opportunity to produce batik textiles. They began to duplicate the specific style of clothing using an industrial printing process, which greatly interested merchants in West Africa. As they work to imitate clothings from different regions, African textile factories began producing cloth based on Dutch prototypes, called wax-print or Dutch-wax (Rovine). These textiles are now found in many parts of Africa and are supposed to elicit a feeling of national and cultural identities, which interested me because the cloths themselves weren’t even from African background, which is what seemed to be so important. 

Jidenna continues to explain how being Nigerian-American shaped his own music. He explains how he was influenced by Highlife music from Nigeria, which was the first music he heard as a child, and how he imitates the vocal delivery of that music. (Galbraith 2015) John Collins defines Highlife Music as “one of the myriad varieties of acculturated popular dance.” (Collins 1989) It is a music style that emerged from Africa and fused with Western influences. It is a ‘black and white’ fusion style.  The first popular fusion style of music was called ‘gome’ or ‘gombey’, which came out of Sierra Leone in the nineteenth century. Gombey drumming was created by slaves from West Africa who brought their musical ideas with them. (Collins)

The fashion in the video connects to class because we have spent time discussing the European rule of Africans. The classic man could represent the civilized individual that Europeans wanted to keep from being created. The European fashion sense has been altered through African fashion, which led to Jidenna’s adoption of his own fashion as a mix of the two. The fashion can also connect to Europeans because Jidenna took other generations’ clothes and made it his own, which is the same thing the people in the video seem to do, which is also similar to the fusing of African and Western-influenced music. 

There is so much more to learn about these topics. If you’re interested, more information can be found in the sources below! Thanks for reading!

Collins, John. “The Early History of West African Highlife Music.” Popular Music, vol. 8, no. 3, 1989, pp. 221–230. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/931273.

Galbraith, Alex. “Jidenna Finally Explained His Reasoning For Making ‘Classic Man’.” UPROXX, UPROXX, 12 Sept. 2015, uproxx.com/music/jidenna-classic-man-explanation/.

Mary Carol Hopkins. “Africa Today.” Africa Today, vol. 52, no. 4, 2006, pp. 130–135. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4187742.

Rovine, Victoria L. “Colonialism’s Clothing: Africa, France, and the Deployment of Fashion.” Design Issues, vol. 25, no. 3, 2009, pp. 44–61. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20627816.