I love the Scent of Africa, not like, the smell of Africa (although it does make me feel “at home”) I mean the super expensive bottle of perfume create by Ghandour. I almost bought it until I asked the attendant where the company was made.
This clerk looked at me with a deadpan face and said – You know, perfume comes from Paris, yeah?
Now I really hope I heard her wrong. But my cousin was there and heard the same thing so maybe what she meant was the perfume is MADE in Paris, which indeed it is. But Ghandour IS a Ghanaian company.
I called on my lovely friend for a ethical consult – SHOULD I buy this perfume. Is this neocolonialism? Am I thinking to much about this?!
Thirty minutes later I didn’t buy the perfume because I ran out of credits and couldn’t figure out who made it.
Yeah I regret it a little bit, because this company is awesome and totally based in Accra!
Anyway, I did buy this amazing massage oil from the yoga studio, Bliss Yoga Accra, and I love it – it is proudly made in Ghana by a local entrepreneur and used/sold in the studio.
So while I wish I was rocking the Scent of Africa, I feel, on the whole happy with the struggle. It reminds me of the importance of wrestling with the complexities of a globalized market, resisting stereotypes about where beautiful and precious things can be made. It was a little bit like the global yoga project. While the profiles of black and plus size yogis are being lifted up more, it’s shocking to hear people’s reaction to my work.
When people ask me why I am traveling and I say, I’m doing research on the African/Black and yoga community I get one of three general responses, “Oh I don’t associate yoga with Africa” to “oh wow I didn’t know that was a thing that so many …people did” or “why would you study that?”.
I study resilience and the ways people create beauty in the face of evil for two reasons:
- There are enough people studying pain and evil and doing a brilliant job at it.
- The vibe around joy is so powerful and not magnifying it seems to be a loss because academia shapes policy.
If all we know about people of color is struggle or excellence and don’t allow for the complexities between then we support what Dr. Emilie Townes calls the Cultural Production of Evil or what Dr. Victor Anderson rejects in Beyond Ontological Blackness as the cult of Black genius.
So cheers to the messiness of being human and to the beauty of living a life of integrity and authenticity anyway.
And if anyone wants to send me a bottle of Scent of Africa I would be most grateful, my birthday is in September so there is plenty of time.