I Am Halfrican: On Embracing the Two Cultures that Make Me Who I Am

A personal essay on identity and how the term "Halfrican" best describes OkayAfrica contributing writer Erica Garnes.

DIASPORAHalfrican: One who identifies as an African as well as other ethnicities.

I first heard this term from a YouTuber named Halfrican Beaute and have since then decided that this was a great way to describe who I am.

It would be easier to just tell people, “I am an African American, my mother is African and my father is American," but there is more to me than just that. Hearing the term Halfrican just sounds intriguing, compelling, funny and honestly confusing.

Dear Halfricans,

To understand me and why I use this term, you need a glimpse of my upbringing. Being raised in an all-white community was like putting someone scared of heights on a roller coaster; at the highest point it was terrible and at the lowest point it was still bad. But once they get off the ride they feel great, because they accomplished and learned something about themselves from the experience.

As my glow up began and I started to really identify myself, it was always interesting to me how the white kids and even the black kids raised in the white community at my school viewed me, in comparison to how I viewed myself. They saw this curvy, dark-skinned, tall, outspoken gal (cue Beyoncé's "Feeling Myself"), who was the only black kid in their class for years. Subsequently, to a few of my friends meeting my mother and finding out I'm African, GIRL...WHO ARE YOU?

I am that chick who knows how to make fried chicken, cornbread and homemade macaroni and cheese. But without question can still eat the Zimbabwean traditional meal with my hands when the sadza (corn meal and water), mbida (greens) and stew is in my face! I am not just one identity; I am my culture and life experiences.

The best way to explain the differences I experienced is through food. I can remember my friend coming to my house for dinner and seeing rice, vegetables, chicken and—wait, “what's this red stuff?" What I knew as gravy to eat with my rice, she confused as soup for a side dish.

*Disclaimer, my mother was okay with me hanging out with friends, but not so much as sleeping at their houses, so the only real American home cooked meal I knew was my fathers.*

Erica Garnes (left) with her mother, her brother Andrew and her sister Makho Ndlovu. Photo courtesy of Erica Garnes.

Her reaction to the gravy was as shook as Takeoff's answer to not being featured on "Bad and Boujee." I mean, baby girl didn't know what to think! The only gravy she had ever seen was grey. Besides that, as long as she had sugar and salt, there was no need for gravy on her rice. Thankfully, she was open to new experiences so she tried the rice and gravy and even went back for more.

With all the experiences I have went through with my friends, I have also been blessed with a strong Zimbabwean mother who has taught me about struggle, and truly starting with nothing and building to the very best you. From the lessons of what hard work is, to my mother's long talks about needing to find a man at this point in my life (I am only 22), and to the cursing I receive for not washing the lone dish in the sink. She has sculpted the African woman I am.

As if my life is not interesting enough, my father was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He takes great pride in exposing his lessons, way of living and understanding of life onto me and my siblings. He teaches me strength in knowing who I am as a Black American, the importance of being book smart and street smart, and understanding how precious our energy and love is when that is given to others. He has sculpted the Black American woman I am.

At this point, you are probably wondering who am I and how I managed to reconcile this harmony I call my life. I did too and at the time felt I had to pick a side but I soon realized that being a Halfrican is getting the best of both worlds; I am able to experience more than one culture, hustle, love and struggle in a way that others cannot. The things I have experienced, my incredibly unique and hard working family, the lessons I have learned, all the way to understanding my mother's language, Ndebele. That being said, I would like to now formally introduce myself.

Hello, my name is Erica Sindisiwe Garnes and I am Halfrican!

I welcome a short series with a few stories from other Halfricans like me.

Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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Headdresses 2 (Collaged) by Helina Metaferia, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and PRIZM Art Fair.

Here's What to Expect at This Year's PRIZM Art Fair In Miami

The yearly art fair, now showing at Miami Art Week/Art Basel Miami Beach tackles 'Love In the Time of Hysteria,' with works by artists from across the diaspora.

PRIZM Art Fair is back again for its seventh edition, once again highlighting some of the brightest artists from Africa and the diaspora during Miami Art Week/Art Basel Miami Beach.

This year's exhibit, entitled Love in the Time of Hysteria, features several works curated by William Cordova, Ryan Dennis, Naiomy Guerrero, Oshun Layne as well as PRIZM Art Fair's founder and director Mikhaile Solomon. It includes pieces from 42 international artists, hailing from over 13 different countries, including Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt, Norway, South Africa, Ghana and the United States.

"Love in the Time of Hysteria illustrates how love, compassion and respect endure in a social milieu riddled with divisive political rhetoric, unprovoked attacks on members of marginalized communities and broad societal malaise as a result of economic inequity," said PRIZM in a press release.

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Burna Boy. Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage (via Getty Images).

The 20 Best Nigerian Songs of 2019

Featuring Burna Boy, Rema, Tiwa Savage, Zlatan, Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Teni, Davido, Lady Donli and many more.

2019 was another huge year for Nigerian music.

Zlatan's presence was ubiquitous and powered by the zeal for zanku, a dance which is now de rigueur. Rema led the charge for a group of young breakthrough artists that include Fireboy DML and Joeboy. They all represent an exciting crop of talents that point the way forward for Nigerian pop.

Burna Boy's new dominance, built around his excellent African Giant album, delivered on his rare talents, while the long wait for Davido's sophomore album, A Good Time, paid off in satisfying fashion. Simi's Omo Charlie Champagne Vol. 1 announced her departure from her longterm label. Tiwa Savage also made a highly-discussed move from Mavin Records to Universal Music Group. Meanwhile, Yemi Alade exuded female strength with her latest record, Woman of Steel.

Not to be left out, Wizkid sated demands for his fourth album with a new collaborative EP following a year of stellar features that included his presence on Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift, an album which also boasts Tekno, Mr Eazi and Tiwa Savage. Mr Eazi also notably launched his emPawa initiative to help fund Africa's promising up-and-coming artists.

Asa returned in a formidable form with Lucid, while buzzing artists like Tay Iwar, Santi, and Lady Donli all shared notable releases. Lastly, the beef between Vector and M.I climaxed and sparked a resurgence of Nigerian rap releases from Phyno to Ycee, PsychoYP and more.

Read on for the best Nigerian songs of 2019. Listed in no particular order. —Sabo Kpade

Follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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OkayAfrica Presents: 'The Adinkra Oracle' December Reading with Simone Bresi-Ando

We're back with another Adinkra reading from Simone Bresi-Ando to help guide you through the end of the year—and the end of the decade.

It's the a new month and that means we're ready for a new Adinkra reading from Simone Bresi-Ando to help you navigate your December.

After cleansing the space, Simone will pull five Adinkra Ancestral Guidance Cards from a deck of 44 Adinkra symbols—these cards help to channel information, messages and direction from your ancestors using Adinkra symbols when read correctly. Remember, as Simone says, "these readings tell you what you need to know and not necessarily what you want to know—our ancestors are emotionally pure."

Simone gives a general reading of what December has in store to help you know what actions and thoughts are necessary to get the best out of the month. This is a special installment as it also guides you through the end of the year—and the end of the decade.

Watch below.

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