Sunday, July 3, 2011

Between Tattoos And Tribal Marks

You can tell when someone has a good handwriting by reading the little notes they write even in a hurry, this was the case of the tattoos those days in Africa especially my country Nigeria which I know a lot about. Some of their tattoo makers those days would have done better with two or more lessons in fine arts or technical drawing. I agree, a lot of strange and unpleasant images are displayed as tattoos on young people’s bodies these days that leave much to be desired but so were bad and terrible ones those days too and I ask, who has the moral justification to complain?

I’m not a fan of tattoos but what amazes me is how our elders condemn tattoos just to make the whole idea of it seem 100% demonic! You start to ask yourself what it was called back in their days when on their abdomen, backs and arms they would inscribe all sorts ranging from their full names, parents’ hometown, job specification with images of different animals from crocodile to species of snakes which they claim are symbols of identification in their families! That this generation has been dynamic enough to devise modern techniques and put theirs on more “exciting” parts of the body now makes us all “spoilt”? I don’t get it. The breasts and buttocks for our ladies are the most frowned at but at least some of them give us the pleasure of seeing pleasant images like flowers, the heart, cupids and butterflies, unlike the badly drawn, inartistic tattoos of their time.

Having something to show off is one of the major reasons why ladies “expose” some of their body details, besides being well endowed; having a tattoo is one of them. The low waist pants, alter neck blouses and most especially those ones made to conceal just the nipples are fashion designers’ ways of taking advantage of the fad. So that if you draw the map of Lagos on your breasts, there is enough space to use it to find our way in Lagos, we only need to keep our eyes fixed on your breasts or well…your map. Seriously though, a lady should be more than her tattoos and the “sweet things” the eyes can see because the truth is while they are fun to look at, it most times ends there for attraction based on sexual fantasies ALONE has a way of dying as quickly as it came.

As for tribal marks, it may be strange to know that I do not have much reservation about them, obviously because being from South-West Nigeria, I am used to many people that have it in different shapes and sizes within and outside my family – the good, the bad and the “hugely” ugly, but this is one of those fashion cultures that our generation has refused to accept and has done nothing to reinvent. It is indeed dehumanizing and gradually dying off, thanks to the government of some Nigerian states like Osun, which has passed into law a bill banning the practice.

I laugh when some elders complain about our “spoilt” generation allowing “our culture” of tribal marks die. Perhaps such people will not mind tearing off their children’s faces for family “identification” in this age! I believe if this generation had also found the tribal mark attractive enough to devise new techniques and styles to improve it as in the case of tattoos, we would still have been labeled spoilt for destroying what our forefathers originated. If tribal marks had been upgraded with Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw and even AutoCAD, would the likes of pele, keke, abaja, and especially the highly disfiguring gombo not have been more pleasant to look at? Maybe that is something to think about but I have found out that most things we do in this generation make no sense to our elders as long as they do not understand them.

I usually believe I will not find it hard to move with trends with the generation coming due to the bridge of technology and better access to global information via new media. I also believe that knowing my child’s personality, temperament and focus will make it easier to understand his decisions even when they seem unorthodox, a simple explanation will do! Well, maybe the long complex, thoroughly scrutinized kind of explanation will be needed but it all boils down to doing my homework while raising him. I once had very long dreadlocks, and I am sure having earned my parents’ trust over the years before growing the dreadlocks was what worked when the chips were down.

While I do not celebrate all the fashion excesses displayed these days by my generation, I think the old folks should also concentrate more on raising good kids than criticizing every new invention they don’t understand. You don’t want to hear my personal stories.

Remind me of this article when I’m older please! I do not see myself hassle my child over things that have to do with trends in his or her time as long as he or she is not making irreversible decisions. In case I derail from these thoughts, please send me a message via whatever means as we can’t be sure if emails wouldn’t be outdated by then but for now my email is here for all.