African Colours in Retrospect

African Colours

What is in a colour that makes it so unique and beautiful? Truth is, everything!

The culture of colours in African societies and tribes dates as far back as the dark ages. Consequent to the trade of individuals of colour en masse across the seas, increased significance to a myriad of colours in African societies may have suffered a lull. However, colours have undergone a historic transformation and symbolism in the African societies we have today. This is because many African societies had just one major purpose with regard to colours namely: festivals. To these, very many cultures of African origin find colours symbolic as their traditions differ.

  • Red stands not just for love and passion but also for blood.
  • Blue stands for calmness and unity.
  • Yellow stands not just for happiness but for the African vibe and spirit. Like wealth and the sun.
  • Green stands for the fertile earth and life in general, a symbol of African continuity with her motherland and the origin.
  • White stands for peace.
  • Brown stands for fertility.
  • Black stands for skin colour and death.

With such a long and historically inhumane past, colours in Africa now dominate her various societies, tribes and lifestyle as a whole. This can be seen in her varieties of existentially plausible acceptance to varying modes of survival.

Africa's Colourful Map

Foods, health, fashion and entertainment are but common areas with primary dominance just like man’s basic necessities.

  • Food: Local delicacies are often colourful and surprisingly nourishing. This can come in creative combinations of colourful food crops, plants and fruits. In fact, the more colourful a food is, the greater the appetite. This finds her indigenous people often craving for homemade food. No wonder vacations to her motherland by offspring and tourists alike continue to be on the increase. After all, mother’s food is often the best.
  • Fashion: It is an undeniable fact that African fashion has attained transcendence in such a unique way that the world cannot get enough of African creativity in her fashion industry. In Nigeria for instance, Ankara and native materials have grown in demand and use. These materials have over the years undergone colourful explosions in creative ways; a way of celebrating the African heritage, tradition and culture. The creativity therein portrays African love and symbolic interaction with colours. African fashion has been revolutionary to the global fashion industry at large.
  • Health: This generally has become associated with the colours of green, red, yellow, purple and brown at varying degrees. In native African societies, colours of green, red and yellow were often used to portray a more friendly feeling of one’s health in good ways. Children were major targets of this strategy to reduce the feeling of hate for health houses and huts. Something we call hospitals today.
  • Entertainment: This undoubtedly, is the pinnacle of African affinity to colours. Blended with amazing creativity, wonderful expressionism and emotionally evoking messages, colours have become and will remain at the heart of African entertainment. With proper and colourfully expressed visuals, one can feel sad, happy, excited, depressed, motivated and or very many other emotions consequently just from watching African entertainment.

Colours are more than a clear description of intangible ideas and emotions. They show the beautiful view of life as we know and see it. That is what one might call, ‘African colourful lifestyle’.

Chizaram D. Ezugwu

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September 18, 2021 8:42 pm

Nice read…educational too