Posts Tagged ‘British’

You’ve probably never heard the word asafo before.  You probably have no idea what it means.

Until last week I didn’t know the word existed either.

I went to the Royal Ontario Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.  There were 100 excellent pictures of insects, animals, marine life, the sort of thing you’d expect.  There was no photography allowed in that exhibit so I have no photos of the images on display.  You’ll have to take my word for it that I was there.

I can appreciate the skill and patience that it takes to capture rabbits in the snow or a school of fish in a certain light underwater but those kind of pictures don’t excite me.   That’s not to diminish the work of the photographers, it was all very high caliber both technically and visually.    What I think I’m trying to say is that I left the exhibit wanting more, something more from my visit to the ROM.

Luckily I didn’t have to look far.  In the next room was Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana.

museum exhibit of asafo flags from Ghana, colourful flags of militia groups in yellows, reds and black. Many are hanging in display cases.

Colour, lots of colour.  And a subject that I knew nothing about, asafo flags.  I wasn’t even sure what part of Africa Ghana is in (It’s on the south coast of Western Africa between Togo and the Ivory Coast as it turns out.).

The flags are hand made with an assortment of different motifs.  The British Jack in the upper left corner is a very common feature.  That’s a clue.  Yes, Ghana was a British colony.   Reading the history of Ghana is like reading the colonial history of large parts of Africa.  The Portuguese built a fortress at Elmina in 1482.    Interest in the region was piqued by the presence of gold, hence the name Gold Coast.   By the early 17th century the first African state,  Akwamu, controlled an extensive part of the coast.  They were displaced by the Ashanti who were very involved in the slave trade, especially in trading slaves for weapons.   When European countries outlawed trading in slaves in the early 1800’s,  Ashanti power suffers.   Some tussles ensue, a few battles, some back and forth, and by 1902 what was Ashanti becomes is a British colony.    It remained a colony until 1957.

close up of a flag, hand made, British Jack in the top left corner, a man walks in front of a church in the center, a black bear in the top right.

I’m not going to pretend to know or understand African history.  I’m only trying to give some context to the flags.    First, jump back to my mention of Elmina and the Portuguese. When the Portuguese arrived in this area in the 15th century, it was the Fante (or Fanti) people that they encountered.  Both the Fante and the Ashanti belong to the Akan people.  The Fante prevented them from venturing inland and leased properties for Portuguese trading missions. But when the Portuguese objected to Fante rules and regulations the Fante expelled them.  Soon after, the Dutch arrived.  The Fante served as middlemen in the commerce between the interior and Dutch traders on the coast.

Around 1724 the Dutch either established or made important a number of militia groups of local Fante.  These are the Asafo companies.  Historically, Asafo companies were in charge of the safety and protection of the local community.   At the height of the slave trade they protected individuals and communities.   They exerted power, exercise political influence and maintain codes of conduct within Fante communities. Each company has a flag and that flag has many roles.   They represent proverbs and depict narratives of pride and wisdom.  They accompany oral history and provide a means to preserve customs and traditions.

below:

  1. top flag, by Kweku Kakanu, Saltpond Workshop. “Only a brave man goes under a large tree” because only large animals go under large trees. Made sometime between 1950 and 1957.
  2. bottom flag, artist unknown, Kromantse Workshop. “Only tie a bull to a large tree”. Both the animal and the tree are acknowledged to be strong and mighty.  Made around 1980.  It has a Ghanese flag in the top left corner.

 

two flags displayed on a black background, with three femail mannequins dressed in traditional Ghanese costume.

below:

  1. top flag, by Kweku Kakanu, Saltpond Workshop. A crocodile dominates and controls a pond of fish. Made around 1940.  The prey can not escape.
  2. bottom flag, by Kwesi Budu, Saltpond Workshop. The fish cann’t escape the net of the fishermen just like enemies will not be able to escape when confronted by the company.  Made around 1950.

two flags displayed on a black background, with two male mannequins dressed in military Ghanese costume.

Fante asafo flags from Ghana, two on display in a museum, chickens and roosters,

Fante asafo flags from Ghana, two on display in a museum, griffons

two mannequins in military uniforms as part of a museum exhibit at ROM

 

 

Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costumes,
ROM, 4th floor,
until March 2017.

 

 

 

The 6th Annual Yorkville Exotic Car Show was on Bloor Street yesterday, Fathers Day.  There were 11 different groups, or corrals, of cars…. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, BMW, Aston Martin, Maserati, and many other car makers were represented.  There was lots of sun and lots of people!

Men looking a black car. All you can see of the car in the picture is the roof.

below: A line of Lamborghinis parked on Bloor Street.
The cars were behind ropes and the spectators had a red carpet to walk on.

Several lamborghinis parked beside each other on Bloor Street as part of the Yorkville exotic car show. Lots of people are looking at them.

a man with grey hair and black glasses is pointing to the front of a black sports car with its hood up. He is pointing out something to the woman beside him who is dressed in black with black hat and holding an umbrella over her head. They are behind a barrier at an outdoor exotic car show

below: A cute little 1959 BMW Isetta 300.
There are no side doors; the front of the car swings open with the steering wheel attached.

a yellow 1959 BMW Isetta 300 with its front door open - the front of the car opens up, parked on Bloor street for the Yorkville exotic car show.

below: A black BMW i8 electric car with its front scissor doors open.

A black BMW i8 electric car with its front scissor doors open.

Four men are looking at a turquoise 1960 Corvette at an outdoor car show. it has its front hood open and a sign by its front bumper says that it belongs to Corvettes of Durham

reflections of a crowd at an exotic car show in the side panel of a bright blue car. The people are standing on a red carpet which comes out a magenta colour in the reflection.

A young man holding his bike stands behind a metal fence while looking at a grey sports car at an outdoor car show in Yorkville

below: Porsche, with German plates

A dark grey Porsche with German licence plates is parked on Bloor Street, beside an older white Porsche, for the 6th annual Yorkville exotic car show.

people looking at, and taking pictures of, a black and orange Lamborghini at a car show, outdoors, Yorkville

parts of two cars parked beside each other in a car show, one is blue and the other is silver. The front wheel of the blue car is reflected in the side panel of the silver car which has G Reddy painted by the rear window.

below: Mercedes GTS

silver mercedes gts car, viewed from behind the back passenger side wheel, parked on Bloor St. for a car show. Some people in the background.

below: Chevrolet Belair convertible, with matching fuzzy dice

an old convertible car, Chevrolet Belair, with top down, turquoise car with matching white and turquoise interior

below: A Porsche from the 1960’s with its engine in the back.
Not much trunk room in this car!

two older classic Porsches, both white, parked in a car show, the one in the foreground has its trunk open to show the engine in the back of the car. Lots of people looking at the cars

below: Another Porsche, a 1961 Roadster

front end of a white 1961 Porsche Roadster

close up of the front grille of a Lexus car showing the L Lexus symbol and the diamond pattern of the metal work.

below: Pink and pink.  Standing in front of a pink Bousoughini from BGarage Ltd.

A little girl in white skirt, pink T-shirt, blue hat and big sunglasses stands in front of a fancy pink car at an outdoor car show

the side of a pink lambourghini, bousoughini, with a reddish car behind it.

below:  Morgan in two shades of blue, from the front.

front end of a two toned blue Morgan car in a car show outside on Bloor Stree, with a rally car in different colours beside it.

below: Same Morgan, but from the back.

back view of a Morgan car, California plates, shiny metallic blue colour, people looking at the cars in the background, car show

below: Shelby, from the 1960’s

man sitting in a folding chair beside a classic grey sports car at a car show

a man in a black short sleeve shirt and a yellow baseball cap is cleaning and polishing the rear window of a yellow Corvette at a car show, lots of onlookers in the background.

below: Tuscan Speed Six by TVR (British)

a purplish green shiny sports car, a Tuscan, by TVR motors, parked on Bloor St. for the Yorkville exotic car show.

below: Pininfarina is an Italian car design company.

close up shot of the front side panel of a white Maserati Pininfarina car, reflections of a red carpet make the bottom part of the car look pink

a boy walks past an orange lamborghini

dark green convertible in the foreground, people looking at in the background

A father is taking a selfie of himself with his son in front of a yellowish green sports car at a car show.

below: Photos of reflections in the front of a Rolls Royce.
It seems I’m not the only one who takes reflection shots.

a person using a GoPro to take a picture of reflections in the chrome on the front of a Rolls Royce