Culture & Heritage

Wassau_Gambia_PC1124The ancient Wassu Stone Circles in Gambia are believed to be burial mounds of Kings and chiefs in ancient times that are over 1,200 years old. Located around Wassu in the Central River Region, they have been dated back to between 750-1000 AD. A local legend has that there is a curse on anyone who disturbs those laid to rest there. This may account as to why they have lasted so long with little human interference. Still some locals come to the site to pray and deposit a small rock on top of a circle stone for good luck.

The stones sizes and circular shapes do vary from 4 to 6 metres across. Though they are burial sites, the stones themselves are of a younger age than the graves. The average height of each stone column is 5 feet 9 inches. The 11 large concentrations of circles have puzzled many a travelers over the centuries and have been the subject of dozens of archaeological excavations since the 1800’s. Under the maintenance and management of the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) of  the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of the Republic of the Gambia, this important heritage site has won international recognition.

Garrison-bridgetownThe historic section of the capital of Barbados in June became the Caribbean country's first entry on the United Nations-managed World Heritage List after a committee of experts approved its inscription and that of two other sites.

 The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Paris, said Bridgetown and its garrison deserved a place on the list, which is comprised of more than 900 cultural or natural sites around the world regarded as having outstanding universal value.

 The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that the committee found the Bridgetown site – comprised of a well-preserved old town and a nearby military garrison – to be an outstanding example of British colonial architecture.


randyweston2NEW YORK -The American jazz pianist and composer Randy Weston once remarked to Culturekiosque's late jazz editor Mike Zwerin, "What I like about Africa is its variety. Africa does not start south of the Sahara. There is as much African spirit in Ghana as in Morocco." Having concertized and collaborated for over 50 years with North African musicians from Morocco to Egypt and deep into the Sudan, the six-foot-seven-inch tall  NEA Jazz Master's contribution has not gone unnoticed. Last month, His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morroco (b. 1963) honored Randy Weston for his lifelong engagement with Morocco and deep commitment to bringing Morocco’s Gnaoua music tradition to the attention of the Western world. The event took place in New York during the French Institute Alliance Française’s World Nomads Morocco Festival.

Randy Weston (b. 1926, Brooklyn, New York) was introduced to the world of the Gnaoua in the 1960s by Maâlem (master player) Abdellah El-Gourd who represents the Tangiers Gnaoua tradition. Born in 1947 in the Kasbah of Tangier, the Morrocan maestro transformed his traditional medina in Tangiers into a museum / institute for the instruction, practice, and promotion of Gnaoua culture. Mr. El-Gourd and Mr. Weston have collaborated together in concert presentations throughout the world including at an unprecedented concert at the Canterbury Cathedral in England.

akwaaba_cookbook“Akwaaba: A Taste of Ghana” by Sandra Amoako, offers you a vibrant and fresh outlook on common, traditional and modern recipes from Ghana, West Africa. As a first-time author, Sandra Amoako offers an easy and beautiful cookbook with easy-to-follow recipes and helpful hints. The cookbook offers recipes including porridge, soups, baked goods, sweets and many more. The goal is to provide straightforward recipes that can easily be prepared using accessible ingredients, no matter what country or continent you reside in. Readers will also find fun facts about Ghana and other interesting cultural information on Ghana.

You will:
• Discover how to prepare dishes with step-by-step guidelines
• Discover something new or something forgotten
• Experience some of the wonderful culture that Ghana has to offer

The cookbook can be ordered online at, and at  .

ISBN #: 9780982524909
LCCN #: 2009907621

textileIf you love West African fabrics, beads, and embellishments, and want to learn more about them up-close with like-minded adventure seekers as you immerse yourself in Ghanaian culture, you’ll want to join Cultured Expressions’ second Textile & Craft Tour of Ghana, taking place September 15-27, 2011!  

Tobago_VillageThere are few unexplored places left in the world. The Caribbean, in particular, is overrun with tourists these days. With thousands of islands, islets, reefs and cays dotting the 2500 square mile Caribbean Sea, there are many destinations to choose from. As a result of aggressive promotion, millions now flock to Jamaica, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and all points in between. But there are a few gems left. Tobago is one of them. This flawless black diamond of the Caribbean is a little corner of paradise with great experiences on offer to people who want to get off the beaten track.

timbuktuOn February 5th in Atlanta, GA, the Children's Museum of Atlanta opened From Here to Timbuktu: a Journey through West Africa. Sponsored by Delta Airlines and Publix Supermarket, the exhibition is designed to instill in children cultural understanding and appreciation. Children have the opportunity to learn about the cultural differences that make the region distinct while also taking account of the similarities between their own culture and one an ocean away!

Fig_1Ancient African travelers and their plausible voyages around the world have been the theme of much recent scholarly study. We have known, for instance—ever since Professor Frank Snowden published his distinguished Blacks in Antiquity—that blacks sailed from Africa, and they participated in significant ways in the classic Greek and Roman cultures flourishing between 350 BC and 300 AD throughout the Mediterranean and east African regions. Snowden’s book offers ample and persuasive evidence in support of his thesis.

After Snowden came many others, including Ivan G. Van Sertima, whose They Came Before Columbus extended the inquiry regarding black travel and consequent historical influences. Indeed, in 1311 AD, also before Columbus, Prince Abubakari II reportedly authorized a 400-vessel Mali sailing expedition that crossed the Atlantic.[i]­

Anse_Slave_2The legacy of slavery is represented in many varying forms at attractions throughout the Caribbean. In some islands, remembrances and memorials are slight and understated, almost as if to suggest that it's best to just move on. In more culturally rich islands like Martinique, however, it's quite the opposite. Poignant, provocative and powerfully moving, the collection of slave memorials here testify to the evils of slavery with a quiet dignity born of personal heartfelt artistic expression.

Among the most moving of these attractions is the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial. Completed in 1998 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the French West Indies, the memorial is comprised of 20 statues, each eight feet tall. As you can see in the photo above, these are large, hulking figures bearing stoic, brooding expressions. Shoulders hunched and heads bowed, the figures stare out to the sea from what is an otherwise pleasant and breezy grassy field.


In a corner of the trendy Nordstrom department store in the new open air Santa Monica Place mall on a breezy sunny day in California, is a small area where crocheted caps and scarves are displayed and sold.   They are the sort of accessories that are seen in fashion magazine photos worn by young hip models and in the mall worn by stylish young shoppers. Some of the headwear is found in bright reds and yellow stripes and some in shades of gray or taupe.  Perfect choices on the ski slope or near the surf.

Inside the hats and on the scarves, are sewn small labels, and on the labels are written names like Adokorach Proscovia, who along with eighty-six other women, crochet the hats and other accessories in a compound in northern Uganda, half way around the world.