Feeling Teutonic

I did have some interest in Germany before, not just the language and geography but also folk clothing and folklore at various points. I’ve yet to go to Germany and Europe in general but I suspect that there’s a lot to Germany that at this point can only be done by bypassing the language barrier. (Google Translate helps as is Google Chrome’s translator.)

I guess learning a lot about Germany through German language websites helps in understanding the sensibility and mentality that I feel Anglophone sources, no matter how well-researched, fail to comprehend (at times). Same goes for any other country, especially if there’s going to be a language barrier around.

(I think from hanging out at Arabic websites, cats are also noted for loyalty and in Russian sources, for also detecting harmful spirits and being jealous.)

A lot of research’s needed for minimising potential culture shock and now with the Internet, it’s even easier to do it and get it translated instantly.

Differences between each African region (Part One)

Africa, arguably until recently and outside of Africans themselves, was often perceived as something of a blank slate to colonial empires especially with interchangeable communities even though Africa has greater genetic diversity.

That and Africans being easily generalised by demeaning cliches. If I’m not mistaken, according to one global study most Africans (especially Nigerians) aren’t that well-endowed and likely in another study, similar for Kenyans too.

(Let’s not forget that there are African men who’re capable of controlling themselves and be faithful husbands.)

Not that there aren’t any indigenous darker skinned populations in Northern Africa as Egypt also used to cover much of Sudan and there’s a community there known as the Nubians. The Berbers, which also live in Northern Africa and to some extent Niger (the Tuaregs*), often practise monogamy. They also heavily use Arabic but there’s growing recognition for Berber languages.

Afro-Asiatic languages prevail in parts of Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania (if I’m not mistaken) and are the norm in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. Unsurprisingly, since Arabic’s something of the lingua franca in Muslim countries (though the usage varies as it’s mostly clerical in places like Indonesia and Turkey) it’s almost parsimonious that Arabic influence’s considerably stronger in Northern and Western Africa.

It should however be noted that they’re still a considerable community in Eastern Africa. Islamic populations vary from being around 25-30% in Cameroon, 50% in Nigeria, 14% in Uganda, 20% in Ghana, 11.1% in Kenya, 38.6% in Cote d’Ivoire, 35% in Tanzania and the norm in Guinea, Chad, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Libya, Tunisia, Sierra Leone and Sudan

Let’s not forget that the Ugandan kanzu is practically the Islamic thobe because it’s adapted from it. Though admittedly, thobes/kanzu robes are also worn outside of it such as Cameroon and historically Europe (robes are also still worn by clergy regardless of the denomination). And many Sub-Saharan Africans went modest due to Islamic and Christian missionary influence.

If Arabic’s the lingua franca of Islam and that of Middle East and Northern Africa (and to some extent, extant Islamic communities) like how Latin’s the lingua franca of Catholic Europe for years, then Swahili’s the lingua franca of East Africa. At least around Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and to some extent, Democratic Republic of Congo.

There’s a colourful saying surrounding its usage: born in Zanzibar, grew up in Tanzania, fell sick in Kenya, died in Uganda and was buried in Congo (as taken from The New Times Rwanda). But the other lingua franca throughout Africa trace back to European colonialism.

Francophone Africa predictably consists of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Gabon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Benin, Togo and Senegal as well as Rwanda (at some point). Keep in mind that Burundi, Rwanda and DRC used to be Belgian colonies.

The rest are usually either former British or French colonies. Since Cameroon also got colonised by the British, it’s parsimonious to suggest that Rwanda and Cameroon have both Anglophone and Francophone tendencies to varying degrees.

This leads to the next one: Anglophone Africa. As one guesses, it consists of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Rwanda (recently so) and to a lesser degree Cameroon. Keep in mind that some of them (Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and Namibia) were former German colonies.

But then again German influence’s very brief since now most of them speak English with Cameroon and Togo becoming predominantly Francophone. Eritrea, Ethiopia (especially Addis Ababa) and Libya all used to be Italian colonies. (Due to Ottoman influence, Ethiopia could also count as a former Turkish colony.)

Though Spain also imported many of its slaves from Africa, there aren’t that many African countries still using Spanish (the only one being Equatorial Guinea, which shouldn’t be confused for French Guinea) and that Libya still uses Italian, the only other major Romance language in Africa is Portuguese.

It’s widely spoken in Cabo Verde, Angola and Mozambique. Like Brazi and Macau, they are all former Portuguese colonies and Angola was used as a sort of gateway for slave traders. Quite logically, though German used to be spoken in Cameroon and the other former German colonies yet English and Afrikaans (Dutch) remained the most persistently used Germanic languages there.

(South Africa, Namibia and Botswana were former Dutch colonies.)

*Music cultures of the Pacific, the Near East, and Asia – Page 40

William P. Malm – 1967 – ‎Snippet view – ‎More editions
Unlike most Berbers, the Tuaregs adopted the Moslem social system while sharing Berber monogamy. Their form of matriarchy is unique (only the men wear veils), as is their writing system (only the women are literate). Their music shows …

Indian Style Filipiana

Like I said, the Philippines was influenced by India so it’s time to acknowledge it again. That is by making Indian style clothing using Philippine fabrics. That could even be possible only if you know where to find native Philippine style fabrics at all. If you’re going to get abel iloko, unless if you learn to make one yourself, you’re going to have to get it from Ilocos and specifically Vigan.

Ad infinitum. If you’re going to make Indian, Russian, Bamileke and Arabic style clothing and fabrics you’ll be needing lots of references to give an idea of what they’re actually like. Making such outfits out of Philippine fabrics is going to be fascinating, though arguably sacrilegious to some. But it’s also worth it, especially when it comes to taking advantage of such fabrics and designs.

Especially if you’re going to adapt Philippine fabrics to Russian and Indian style clothing.


I’ve been sewing several skirts this year but if there’s something I’d like to make a skirt out of, it’s abel iloko or one of those indigenous Philippine fabrics mostly made in Ilocos and I used to have a blanket made out of that. (Or maybe two.) In fact I consider getting a red one out of admiration for or curiosity in Indian and Chinese wedding traditions as they both endorse red for marriages.

Rather logically white is the colour of death in Ethiopia, India and China which makes sense because it’s the colour of frost, snow, winter*, cloudy or rainy skies (as if the heavens are crying) and skeletons/bones. My own two deceased relatives wore white from what I saw in coffins as well as photographs of one of them in it so there’s that.

(The Philippines is that influenced by China right down to celebrating Chinese new year, food and red envelopes.)

That is if I go to Ilocos one day, which could happen soon enough. Hopefully.

*If I’m not mistaken, I recall on telly that it’s the colour of autumn as it signifies the coming of winter. Winter proper would be associated with the colour black because that’s when the nights get longer.

The Post-Anime Years 3: India and China

I’ve said before that India and China might benefit a lot from replacing Japan as the centre of the Asian animation industry. This time not one but two but keep in mind that not only that they’re both one of the world’s fastest growing and biggest economies (China and India could become no 1 and 2 respectively in the near future) but that they’re historically one of the biggest empires. In fact they’re globally one of the biggest so far.

Both of them have influenced Southeast Asia a lot to varying degrees since there’s a substantial Chinese diaspora there followed by its Indian counterpart. They’ve even influenced Japan to whatever degree though keep in mind that both Japan and Korea were former Chinese colonies and China itself got influenced by India not just through shared customs (white for funerals, red for weddings) and myths (Hanuman/Son Wukong among others) but also through Buddhism.

They’re close neighbours so they’re going to influence each other. And they still would to some degree though as major Asia animation hubs they’re going to vie for international markets a lot. Especially for their neighbours.

Interest in imperfection

As I get older, I realise that some things are way more interesting for their flaws rather than their virtues. The what could-have beens and why-did-it-happens of the world. The dark side of everything. The hidden face of a good image.


I could be becoming more realistic and less inclined to put something on a pedestal for whatever reason and factor. That doesn’t lessen the fascination though it can intensify it in a way. Imperfection isn’t bad. Mistakes happen though I myself find it hard to admit too.


Sometimes a mishap can be more charming than glamour. Though it doesn’t make for good advertising, it can be oddly fascinating when it comes to understanding how and why it went wrong. What went wrong in an otherwise idyllic place.


There’s also novelty to imperfection and a desire to understand its woes and shortcomings. An awareness of what’s really going on even beyond international headlines. It’s a cultivated interest so to speak because it takes time to understand, if not appreciate those.


But it’s good to want to learn more so imperfections are the best places to start.