Beads are highly valuable in traditional African society, even today. They are used for different purposes. Most societies in Africa use them for adornment. They are also used for artwork. Besides using beads for fashion reasons, some African communities in the past used special types of beads as currency to exchange goods and services. They can also serve as a proof of identity.
As Africans, we have our own unique holidays where we get to wear our traditional clothes, such as Heritage Day and Africa Day. On those days, people get to showcase their cultures. It’s where we showcase our African and artistic prints.
Since I was born I have never worn beads on those days. Some people might have seen me as this person who does not know or care about their culture. Really it was nothing close as I had none. We might say it is because of our priorities. In our home, if a child does not have a school uniform then a parent must try to get it. So, instead of me getting traditional clothes my mother always prioritised more important items.
I have always been an African, but not the privileged one when it comes to our financial state, so I never got the nicest things I wanted, but I always got what I needed most.
As a proud African I always wanted something of my own, that would remind me about my African identity, even if it is just a little thing. Most of the time the little things are the most cherished.
These days we are Africans yes, but as our culture evolves we don’t have to wear the full traditional outfit. Rather we can choose just one item that identifies ourselves as an African. Just to spice up your youthful style in your favourite artistic manner, you can wear your nice traditional hair band or bracelet. Anything that will make you look African at that particular moment.
So my friend who saw that I lacked an African print or style gave me a neck bracelet as a gift. To some people it can be seen as a little thing, but – as I said – little things are so cherished because they come from the bottom of people’s hearts.