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Kola

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  • DZ Levine
    I realize this isn t directly related to African art but is important to the culture of West Africa. This information may be old hat for most of you but it may
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 12, 2008
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      I realize this isn't directly related to African art but is important to the culture of West Africa. This information may be old hat for most of you but it may be novel for some. When I went to West Africa for the first time it was new to me.

      Kola nuts come in many varieties. Most common are the red and the white kola which are firm, white-fleshed, somewhat semi-circular with flat sides. Also common but not quite so popular is bitter kola, which is a smaller and a slightly curved spindle-shape with a brown skin.
      Kola contains considerable amount of caffeine, one of a group of chemicals termed xanthines which are pharmacologically quite active. Another xanthine is theophylline which is used in Western medicine to treat asthma. I suspect that kola contains other xanthines as well as caffeine since it has different effects than many other caffeine-containing substances (coffee, cocoa, etc.) It has greater mood-elevating and appetite-suppressant capabilities. It also may act as a general tonic (?) and may have fat-burning capabilities (according to Wikipedia).
      The flesh starts out white but quickly turns orange with chewing and stains the teeth, especially any areas where there is tartar buildup.
      It is more than a recreational chew, though. Kola is a vital part of most ceremonies and exchanges. Contractual arrangements are initiated and sealed with gifts, among which kola is almost always part of it. For instance, when an elder is approached for information or teaching  a gift of kola signifies  respect. In the cultures I came into contact with, If a man is interested in a woman for marriage he will have his representative speak to the woman's family and present them with kola and some money to initiate the process. I would periodically bring my kora teacher, Alhaji Kuyate, bitter kola as a sign of respect and affection. At naming ceremonies kola would be given out to the guests. If one visits someone in mourning one might bring a gift of a quarter-kilo of kola and some money as a gesture of sympathy.
      When I first met Jalibah Kuyate one of the members of his band had just died. I brought him a package of kola wrapped in leaves and 200 dalasis (~$10) as a gift. He said, "Oh, you really understand our culture!" (Certainly an overstatement but welcome, anyway.)
      If anyone has any additional information on kola I'd love to hear it.
      David
       David Levine
      360-535-3875


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    • Ed Jones
      Highly relative and with a direct correlation to what this group is about.   ... From: DZ Levine <davidzl_2000@yahoo.com> Subject: [African_Arts]
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 12, 2008
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        Highly relative and with a direct correlation to what this group is about.

         



        --- On Thu, 6/12/08, DZ Levine <davidzl_2000@...> wrote:

        From: DZ Levine <davidzl_2000@...>
        Subject: [African_Arts] Kola
        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Thursday, June 12, 2008, 9:44 AM

        I realize this isn't directly related to African art but is important to the culture of West Africa. This information may be old hat for most of you but it may be novel for some. When I went to West Africa for the first time it was new to me.

        Kola nuts come in many varieties. Most common are the red and the white kola which are firm, white-fleshed, somewhat semi-circular with flat sides. Also common but not quite so popular is bitter kola, which is a smaller and a slightly curved spindle-shape with a brown skin.
        Kola contains considerable amount of caffeine, one of a group of chemicals termed xanthines which are pharmacologically quite active. Another xanthine is theophylline which is used in Western medicine to treat asthma. I suspect that kola contains other xanthines as well as caffeine since it has different effects than many other caffeine-containing substances (coffee, cocoa, etc.) It has greater mood-elevating and appetite-suppressan t capabilities. It also may act as a general tonic (?) and may have fat-burning capabilities (according to Wikipedia).
        The flesh starts out white but quickly turns orange with chewing and stains the teeth, especially any areas where there is tartar buildup.
        It is more than a recreational chew, though. Kola is a vital part of most ceremonies and exchanges. Contractual arrangements are initiated and sealed with gifts, among which kola is almost always part of it. For instance, when an elder is approached for information or teaching  a gift of kola signifies  respect. In the cultures I came into contact with, If a man is interested in a woman for marriage he will have his representative speak to the woman's family and present them with kola and some money to initiate the process. I would periodically bring my kora teacher, Alhaji Kuyate, bitter kola as a sign of respect and affection. At naming ceremonies kola would be given out to the guests. If one visits someone in mourning one might bring a gift of a quarter-kilo of kola and some money as a gesture of sympathy.
        When I first met Jalibah Kuyate one of the members of his band had just died. I brought him a package of kola wrapped in leaves and 200 dalasis (~$10) as a gift. He said, "Oh, you really understand our culture!" (Certainly an overstatement but welcome, anyway.)
        If anyone has any additional information on kola I'd love to hear it.
        David
         David Levine
        360-535-3875


        ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ __
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      • leerubinstein
        David: Recalling a question posed in June, I have just recently happened upon an on-line source attributed to Theresa Emenike which discusses briefly some
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 21, 2008
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          David:

          Recalling a question posed in June, I have just recently happened upon an on-line source attributed to Theresa Emenike which discusses briefly some general classifications and
          aspects of the the significance of kola nuts in an Igbo context : http://www.amaigbo.plus.com/files/orji.html .

          Lee




          --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, DZ Levine <davidzl_2000@...> wrote:
          >
          > I realize this isn't directly related to African art but is important to the culture of West
          Africa. This information may be old hat for most of you but it may be novel for some.
          When I went to West Africa for the first time it was new to me.
          >
          > Kola nuts come in many varieties. Most common are the red and the white kola which
          are firm, white-fleshed, somewhat semi-circular with flat sides. Also common but not
          quite so popular is bitter kola, which is a smaller and a slightly curved spindle-shape with
          a brown skin.
          > Kola contains considerable amount of caffeine, one of a group of chemicals termed
          xanthines which are pharmacologically quite active. Another xanthine is theophylline which
          is used in Western medicine to treat asthma. I suspect that kola contains other xanthines
          as well as caffeine since it has different effects than many other caffeine-containing
          substances (coffee, cocoa, etc.) It has greater mood-elevating and appetite-suppressant
          capabilities. It also may act as a general tonic (?) and may have fat-burning capabilities
          (according to Wikipedia).
          > The flesh starts out white but quickly turns orange with chewing and stains the teeth,
          especially any areas where there is tartar buildup.
          > It is more than a recreational chew, though. Kola is a vital part of most ceremonies and
          exchanges. Contractual arrangements are initiated and sealed with gifts, among which
          kola is almost always part of it. For instance, when an elder is approached for information
          or teaching  a gift of kola signifies  respect. In the cultures I came into
          contact with, If a man is interested in a woman for marriage he will have his
          representative speak to the woman's family and present them with kola and some money
          to initiate the process. I would periodically bring my kora teacher, Alhaji Kuyate, bitter
          kola as a sign of respect and affection. At naming ceremonies kola would be given out to
          the guests. If one visits someone in mourning one might bring a gift of a quarter-kilo of
          kola and some money as a gesture of sympathy.
          > When I first met Jalibah Kuyate one of the members of his band had just died. I brought
          him a package of kola wrapped in leaves and 200 dalasis (~$10) as a gift. He said, "Oh,
          you really understand our culture!" (Certainly an overstatement but welcome, anyway.)
          > If anyone has any additional information on kola I'd love to hear it.
          > David
          >  David Levine 360-535-3875
          >
          >
          >
          > __________________________________________________
          > Do You Yahoo!?
          > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          > http://mail.yahoo.com
          >
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