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Differences are meant to be celebrated and shared and highlighted as the beauty that makes the world spin around. Each of us and our cultures are different and unique. Please join Blupela in celebrating the uniqueness of your life and heritage by sharing it as a spotlight on Light of Culture.

Create a Light of Culture Spotlight and show the creativity of your people to the world. It can be a photo or video of anything that represents who you are and who you see yourself to be within your communities and cultural background. Art, music, dance, food, clothing, worship, sports, anything that is unique to YOU!

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Africa

Ibrahim, the Coach on the Wheelchair

Issa Nyaphaga
Ibrahim Abdoulaye –
Since ever he was a child, Ibrahim barely remembers the last time he stood up and walked. Ibrahim was victim of Polio disease at the age of one and half year old in his village in N’ditam. Because of the lack of information in his family, his parents were not able to provide Ibrahim with Polio vaccination. But Ibrahim showing that even sitting the wheelchair you can accomplish your dream.
Mobility with dignity
The physical condition of Ibrahim has made him resilient to the challenge he faces in his every day’s life. From the age of three to nine years old, the young boy crawled down most of his childhood. In a rural African village, taboo is rampant in the communities. Fortunately, Ibrahim has less prejudice in Nditam and also the support of his entire village. In 2002, Ibrahim was granted with his ever first tricycle donated by HITIP (Hope International For Tikar People) a community-based organization working to improve the quality of life of the marginalized, indigenous people in Mbam and Kim region, where Ibrahim is from. The wheelchair has helped the young boy to gain his dignity – he couldn’t any longer be carried to run little errands such as going to the toilet, getting himself around the village and with his friends. The same tricycle helped Ibrahim to complete his primary education. Almost a decade after Ibrahim received his first wheelchair; he has become a strong young leader and a man with a vision for his life.
A gifted soul
In Nditam, a lost village in the middle of the equatorial rainforest, with no infrastructure – no running water, no electricity and medical center, Ibrahim has developed skills of a technician – he is the tech repair guy of the village. He fixes flashlights, radios, wheelchairs, bicycles and even generators. The villagers are amazed how the talent of a young individual with disabilities has become a tremendous support to the community.
Beside his passion as technician, Ibrahim is a great fan of soccer/football game. In Cameroon, Soccer/football is not only a game as we would think, it is a religion, and everybody is involved; children, adolescents, women, adults and elders. And for those who are not naturally granted with two legs, they can go play with braces or crutches. Ibrahim knows early in his life that he wouldn’t play the ball himself, and for a while he cheered the teams sitting on a wheelchair and one day he felt like not only waiting next to the stadium, he wanted to be in the game and field on the grass under the wheels of his tricycle, since he cannot stand and run.
Fair winner
In the Summer 2009, HITIP, the same local organization launched the soccer/football championship among the villages. And the event took place in Nditam his home-based village; it was the perfect opportunity for Ibrahim to show how much he could contribute to the championship. Quickly, Ibrahim formed a team of young soccer players and started training them three times a week. And he baptized his team; Meliti Football Club of N’ditam. Meliti is the name of the most famous tikar gods, symbolized as a character of a mask, which are the spirits of Tikar ancestors. The mythology of Meliti is known as the son who committed a matricide – the murder of his mother. With his oval and flat back head, Meliti has an impressive appearance, and has a single red feather on the top of his forehead, that gives him a particular look. Meliti has one extraordinary affect on the Tikar people; they adore and hate him in the same time, mostly women and young females. However, this name brought luck to the team of coach Ibrahim who has won the first soccer/football tournament. Since then, Meliti Football Club has doubled final cup winner of the Championship in N’ditam.
Along with his exciting hobby as soccer lover, Ibrahim has been a fellow for the computer and solar provided by Linux Friends Solar. The young coach on the wheelchair is now preparing to complete the secondary education.
The movie star in rural African
In the countryside of Africa where superstitious beliefs are rooted in the culture, taboo and prejudice are the daily challenge of women, poor or the disabled. Ibrahim’s achievements were brought to the attention of Narcisse Sandjon; a Cameroonian filmmaker based in the city of Yaoundé. Early in the summer 2015, a local Narcisse Sandjon came to interview and follow Ibrahim for documentary film project on his life. Narcisse said he was interested to film him because Ibrahim is one the rare person with disability who doesn’t beg. Then I thought maybe the coach on the wheelchair is kind of cool story.

While filming Ibrahim in N’ditam, the young man said: “Then years ago, my dream was to stand and walk. Today my dream is to leave this village to go beyond the borders of my country to receive knowledge and come back to make significant changes.”
At Blupela, our answer is: Why not! If you were able to change things in the daily of your village and give two victories to your village, you can inspire the world.
Good luck Ibrahim!
To connect with Ibrahim Abdoulaye, contact:
Issa N. Nyaphaga
Artist, Cartoonist & Human Rights Activist
Professor of Contemporary African Art, Social Justice & Cultural Diversity
Santa Fe, New Mexico – USA - January 25, 2015.
connect@hitip.org

www.hitip.org
All photos by O. Mebouack©

Votes6 DateAug 31, 2015

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Africa

International Fishing Festival Nigeria

Sylvester Omeje
For many people, fishing is a way of life. But for a small town in Argungu, Nigeria, fishing is both a way of life and a symbol of peace between them and the people of Sokoto. Every year, the Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria is celebrated to commemorate the harmony between the two neighbors. Fishermen from Argungu, Sokoto and nearby towns participate in a bare-hand fishing contest in Matan Fada River where the winner is awarded generous prizes and the title, "Fisherman of the Year". The winner is the one who catches the biggest fish using only a net and a calabash floater. The Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria is a four-day festival which also includes different sports activities like archery, swimming, catapulting, animal-skinning among others. But the main event is the bare-hand fishing wherein a fisherman is given one full hour to catch the biggest fish to the sound of the beating drums. Winners will receive cash prizes and other gifts given by sponsors. Generally, the participants and audience are all male so verify with the event organizers if you are female and want to experience the excitement.
The best time to see the Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria is on March 16th or 17th. Again, always check with the organizers to prevent missing the dates as sometimes, the Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria is postponed due to low water level of the the Matan Fada. Usually the Argungu fishing festival starts on a Wednesday and ends on Sunday. If you are a bit of an adventurer and would love to dive into the waters of Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria or in any of the events, recently, they have allowed male foreigners to join the contests and the festival was brought to International level. The people are known to be friendly and helpful and it is most honorable to be able to experience the Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria. Weather during this time will be hot and balmy with some occasional rain shower, make sure to drink lots of water because it will be crowded. Moreover, if you are a spectator, expect it to get muddy especially if it rains in the Matan Fada. It is recommended to travel with a local so hire a trustworthy guide from a local tour operator.
Ref: http://www.thecircumference.org/argungu-fishing-festival
YouTube videos

Votes4 DateJul 3, 2015

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Africa

My Work Is Having Impact Back to Africa

Issa Nyaphaga
MY WORK IS HAVING IMPACT BACK IN AFRICA:
(My Brain Is a Lab for Projects To Impact In Africa.)

Students of Master's 2 at the Institute of Fine Arts in Foumban - Cameroon.
Whether it is the Art, Human Rights or Mediation to free many from prison for demanding Equal Justice, wild ideas I started in my studios or in my wild mind alone are paying off.

Moir Walita the community organizer in Malawi talking to the students of the schools he supervises.
This week, in the small Republic of Malawi, one of the few countries in Africa to have elected a female president, my philosophy and vison is being taught this semester... The documentary films portraying my artistic endeavors and social justice project are the main topic in 7 Girls' Schools and 1400 students in the Rhumpi District in the north of Malawi.

Issa talking to the crowd in his village, Nditam before a football match
Brother Moir Walita, the community leader who supervises the schools, was invited to New Mexico in 2016 to bring awareness and collect funds for his cause - "building girls bathrooms in schools" to avoid early marriages and premature pregnancies. Moir believes girls should have education first.
One of the Issa's projects (Water for Social Peace) won the 2012 Global Rotary Peace Award in Berlin- Germany.

Votes3 DateOct 4, 2017

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Africa

Happy Mother's Day

Issa Nyaphaga
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY
I'm that little worm she carried in her belly, then on he back.
For me, the relationship to a Mother is Sacred. I grew up in this rural village in Africa with no birthday celebration. Even though my mother Adjimi had my birth certificate, she can't read and writ - so I missed this kind of fun a child can have. .. That's okay.
We're currently building a community radio station in the village, so that the next generation of women and girls can access Knowledge and Education.
***THIS SUNDAY, DONATE TO http://www.hitip.org/ ON THE NAME OF YOUR LOVED MAMA! Usoko/Thank You ;-)

Votes3 DateMay 14, 2017

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Africa

The Great African History Wall of Heinz Center

Sylvester Omeje
On the fourth floor of the Heinz History Center, there engraved in color are some pictures revealing transitions of the black struggle, liberation, love, unity and power, the Black History and the African migration into the greater Pittsburgh area and also the modern rich social, culture, education and the economic impact that we have brought with us into the region. I am proud to be a part of this historic wall side by side with Barack Obama, John Jack, rufus Idris, Mama Kadiatu, Albert Duroue, Robert Agbede and others that you might recognize as I proudly wave my Nigerian Flag and lift Africa high.



Votes3 DateFeb 15, 2016

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Africa

Yehuday Etiopia

Bernard Asper
In Israel there exists the largest community of Black Jews in the world. They are called today Yehuday Etiopia or Ethiopian Jews. They have their own Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Hadane, recognized by the State of Israel. He has amongst his duties to make sure that Ethiopians in Israel before they marry have either a continuous female line Jewish lineage or else that they first convert. This is because of the gap between World Jewry in touch with Rabbinical Jewish Law and their Ethiopian brethren not traditionally conversant in Rabbinical Judaism altogether.
They are developing their own responses to Rabbinical Judaism on individual and communal levels. This causes tension at times but the Jews from the Former Soviet Union have had a similar situation with Israel having to deal with people considering themselves Jewish in accordance with Soviet government definitions but not Jewish ones. In any event many Ethiopian Jews want to preserve customs that have been in vogue in Ethiopia. One of them, a holiday in Israel, called Sigd is an opportunity nowadays, for all Jews to further their bonds as a people or more accurately in terms of Jewish attitudes, a family.
Sigd falls out the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, 50 days after Yom Kippur. The holiday recalls the reaffirmation of acceptance of God's covenant with Israel through the leadership of Ezra and Nehemia leaders of the returning Jewish exiles to Israel from the Babylonian exile, the first exile of the Jewish people.
In 2008, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset legislated Sigd as a national holiday. Rabbi Yosef Hadane helped to organize its annual Jerusalem celebration. It is a time when Ethiopian Jews celebrate their heritage and now a time when their fellow Jews come to celebrate with them their common connection. After welcoming their brothers and sisters home to Israel, they are trying to make them feel at home.

Votes3 DateJun 30, 2015

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Africa

Activism

Issa Nyaphaga
Club 9516/The Sound Kitchen - Cartoonist, artist, philanthropist Issa Nyaphaga
Rebroadcast:
This week on the Club 9516/Sound Kitchen, meet Cameroonian political cartoonist, painter, philanthropist and political exile, Issa Nyaphaga. There’s lots of good music ... and of course, the quiz ...
http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/20100314-club-9516the-sound-kitchen-cartoonist-artist-philanthropist-issa-nyaphaga

Votes2 DateJan 23, 2016

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Africa

Oumar Mebouack

Issa Nyaphaga
Oumarou Mebouack –
The Third Eye In The Lens.
Oumar Mebouack is a African photographer, cameraman and videomaker based in the city Douala, Cameroon. Oumarou Mebouack was born on December 1st 1976 in the town of Mandjo in Cameroon and grew raised by a grandmother who could not read or write a single letter in western alphabet. But she could read the signs n the nature, translate the weather and explain the dreams. Oumarou grew up learning from his grand mother all the characteristics of human behavior and life. As a child living in countryside of a 3rd world nation as Cameroon, he also grew up very speechless and watched the rural activities, including ritual ceremony of the Tikar tribe.
He became a photographer by accident. One day his uncle Ousmane brought him a little strange automatic box that could fix on a tape on a film tape any or a scene that you see. The young Oumar was shocked by the first gift from his uncle. After he moved from N'ditam Tikar, country to the city of Douala, at the age of 17th, he decided to study photography. Like many other artists in Cameroon, Oumarou is a self taught photographer and multimedia artist. In 2000s he started working as a freelance a photojournalist and reporter for local and international agencies while he was also photographing the urban daily life such as; birthday, marriage and family celebrations to make a living.
Since the year of 2002, he is the project coordinator of (HITIP) Hope International for Tikar People, a community-based organization that is working to improve the lives of the Tikar and pygmies people in Cameroon. Oumarou is the vital link between the Tikar and Pygmy region in Cameroon and the rest of the world and the villagers call him the "Third Eye". Oumarou has collaborated on several publications, magazines and documentary films, some most notably the latest film "Return to the Belly of the Beast," "The Power OF Pen And Ink" and the current "Radio Taboo" cpoduced by Issue TV, US. Oumarou is well-known for his artistic work, and his works have been shown in several countries around the world. In 2008, one of his videos was shown at Prospect 1, the premiere Biennale in New Orleans in the United States. The aim of this video project was to compare the trauma experienced by the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina with the daily life of the inhabitants of certain regions of Africa during the rainy season. Because of his deep knowledge of the traditional, rural world and the urban world, Ourmarou's valuable research has allowed HITIP to establish a solid base in the Tikar region of Cameroon. Oumarou's work have also documented the lives of thousands of indigenous people living in rainforest of Cameroon. "I want my camera to be the witness of all the things that my eye can see" said Oumarou. Oumarou Mebouack works and lives in Cameroon.
Please take a look at some of these videos filmed by Oumar!!

Votes2 DateAug 17, 2015

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Africa

We May Have Been Wrong About How African Pygmies Grow

Samuel Posin
By Rachel A. Becker, National Geographic
PUBLISHED July 28, 2015
People with small body sizes, known as Pygmies, begin life at a typical size but grow slowly in early childhood, a new study shows. The results may cast doubt on long-held beliefs about how and why these groups developed shorter statures.
New evidence published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications suggests that East and West African Pygmy children have different patterns of growth, a finding that may also shed light on how these groups evolved. Fernando Ramirez Rozzi, a National Geographic grantee at the French National Center for Scientific Research and lead author of this study, spent eight years tracking age, growth, and fertility in a Pygmy population in Cameroon called the Baka.
The name Pygmy describes rainforest hunter-gatherer populations around the globe that share heights of less than around five feet tall. This short stature is genetic, research has shown, not merely the result of malnutrition. Less clear, though, is the question of how diminutive body size evolved, and whether it did so independently in different African Pygmy groups.
Growth curves
“There are just so few studies of this kind on Pygmies,” says University of Pennsylvania professor Sarah Tishkoff. Tishkoff studies the Baka but was not involved in this work.
Nomadic hunter-gatherer groups such as the Baka are notoriously difficult to study. Rozzi described the village as completely in the rainforest, with a shifting population. “You go one time in the year and you find some people. You go again six months later and the people have moved—you have a new family there,” he said.
Another challenge, added George Perry, an anthropologist and geneticist at Pennsylvania State University, is that hunter-gatherers don’t always know how old they are. “If you don’t have that information, or if that information is prone to error, it’s very hard to actually get accurate growth curves,” said Luis Barreiro, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Montreal.
Rozzi’s group got accurate ages from a group of nuns at a nearby Catholic mission who recorded birth dates and weights since the late 1980s. Rozzi’s team combined the information with their own measurements of children and adults whose ages they knew to create a growth curve of Baka people from birth to age 25.
The growth curves revealed that Baka infants are born the same weight as French infants, but after three months Baka weights drop, and never catch up. This contradicts the reigning theory—at least for this population—that Pygmy people are short-statured because they lack a growth spurt during puberty. (“They demonstrate a growth spurt pretty convincingly,” Perry says.)
East African Pygmy populations have a different growth pattern: Infants are born small and stay small, according to published studies that Rozzi’s team used for comparison. The difference between the two groups could mean that Pygmies’ shorter statures did not start with their common ancestor, but instead evolved independently in response to similar environments.
Evolved twice?
Pygmy populations in Africa have a common ancestor thought to have split from typically-sized populations around 60,000 years ago, before splitting again into East African and West African groups around 20,000 years ago.
Several theories suggest that short stature is an adaptation to life in the tropical rainforest: small bodies regulate heat better, are more agile when moving through dense vegetation, need less food, and, according to one theory, can reproduce at younger ages.

Votes2 DateJul 31, 2015

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