June 24, 2020
#Music | All the references about Africa on 'Black Parade'

Right on schedule for Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in America, Beyoncé released the song “Black Parade” which celebrates being Black through it all, following the recent uprisings against racism in the U.S and around the world.
Sampling African chants on a hip hop base, Beyoncé dropped loads of lines about black history and black pride. Here are the references about Africa on 'Black Parade':

I'm goin' back to the South / I'm goin' back, back, back, back / Where my roots ain't watered down / Growin', growin' like a Baobab tree
Beyoncé is from Houston, Texas, which is located in the south. Texas is also the birthplace of the Juneteenth celebrations. The continent of Africa is also known as being part of “the south” along with other 3rd world countries of the globe that are for the most part geographically located under developed continents like Europe and North America, known as the north.

Although Beyoncé could be talking about going back to Texas, she may also be talking about going back to Africa altogether (hence the emphasis on “back” with the repetition) because that is where black roots are the purest and the 'Baobab tree' grows despite the warm and dry conditions of the continent

Ankh charm on gold chains, with my Oshun energy, oh / Drip all on me, woo, Ankh or the Dashiki print

Beyoncé also celebrates her African origins by referencing the 'Ankh' which is a symbol from Ancient Egypt, 'Oshun' is the Nigerian Yoruba goddess of femininity, love, sensuality and fertility (who Beyoncé has previously paid tribute to in her performance at the 2017 Grammys) and the 'Dashiki print' is a colorful piece of clothing with intricate prints popular in Africa.

Baby sister reppin' Yemaya

Yemoja, (also referred to as Yemaya in Santeria and Mami Wata in other traditions), is a Yoruba water goddess and patron saint for expecting mothers. Beyonce sister Solange channeled the goddess through her outfit at a 2016 SNL performance.

Melanin, melanin, my drip is skin deep, like Ooh, motherland, motherland, motherland, motherland drip on me

Here she further celebrates being from Africa, “the motherland”, and having “melanin” which is the pigment that gives skin, eyes and hair their color.

Whenever mama say so, mama say

“Mama say” mimics part of the popular song “Soul Makossa” by Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango. Versions of “Soul Makossa” where also performed by Michael Jackson and Rihanna.
Dibango died in March 2020 from COVID-19 complications;

Waist beads from Yoruba (Woo)

The Yoruba people are an ethnic group mostly present in Nigeria. Waist beads are an accessory worn by African women. the beads can represent sexual attraction and sexuality, symbols of love, protection and femininity.

from o-xum.com/

Four hunnid billi', Mansa Musa (Woo)

Mansa Musa was the tenth emperor of the Mali Empire and the richest person to ever live with a net worth estimated to be $400 billion (hunnid billi) in modern currency. Mansa Musa is used as an example of Black wealth in early times.

Judgin', runnin' through the house to my art, all black / Ancestors on the wall, let the ghosts chit-chat

41 seconds into Bey’s formation video, is shown hanging on the wall a painting, which appears to be a photo-shopped version of a picture included in French photographer Daniel Laine’s book entitled “African Kings: Portraits of a Disappearing Era”. Published in 2000, the book is a collection of 70 African kings portraits. The one featured in the "Formation" video is of King Joseph Langanfin of Benin, who is considered as the official representative of the kings of Abomey. Abomey was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Dahomey (c. 1600-1904), which would later become a French colony, then the Republic of Dahomey (1960–1975), and today known as the Republic of Benin.

Voodoo is a religion heavily practiced in Benin, it emphasizes ancestor worship and holds that the spirits of the dead live side by side with the world of the living.

We got rhythm, we got pride / We birth kings, we birth tribes / Holy river (Holy r, holy tongue (Holy tongue)

Africa is known for rhythmic music and chants for multiple occasions. Africa still values tribes and kingdoms. In African traditions water symbolizes life, as an instrument of purification and the river is still a popular place for many activities such as swimming, playing, taking baths, baptizing, carrying water and washing. Water also plays a special role in the voodoo ceremonies. Africa is also a place of a diversity of dialects or tongues.

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