Giraffe gaffe: Delta apologizes for USA-Ghana World Cup tweet
article written by Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News, June 16, 2014
"Delta Airlines has apologized for a tweet — posted after Monday's thrilling 2-1 U.S. World Cup victory over Ghana — that used a picture of a giraffe to represent the African country.
"Congrats team #USA!" Delta wrote in the tweet, which included an overlay of the score above stock images of the Statue of Liberty and a giraffe.
But the airline deleted the tweet after Twitter users pointed out that while the continent of Africa may be home to giraffes, Ghana is not...
The airline later issued an apology.
We're sorry for our choice of photo in our previous tweet. Best of luck to all teams.Nonetheless, the ill-conceived tweet was widely mocked and sparked several photo-driven parodies."
9:40 PM - 16 Jun 2014
Among the photo-driven parodies is one of a giraffe seen outside the window of a plane flying high in the air. A number of commenters critical of Delta Airlines indicated that the offending tweet was made because the airline representative was not only ignorant of Ghanaian culture but lumped all African nations together.
A commenter from that same article whose link is given above wrote:
W. June 17, 2014
"Many of you are falling into the same trap Delta did–generalizing based on limited information. The point of the criticism of Delta is that no one takes the time to learn about what is happening in Africa and base their notions on limited media coverage (generic "Africa shots" and reporting on disasters). This is true of other places as well. Curiously, many of the same people talk about how the media can't be trusted to cover their pet issues here in the US."
Here's a well meaning suggestion for Delta Airlines:
The next time you want to use a symbol to represent Ghana, West Africa, use a drawing of an adinkra symbol.
"Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan, that represent concepts or aphorisms. Adinkra are used extensively in fabrics, pottery, logos and advertising. They are incorporated into walls and other architectural features. Fabric adinkra are often made by woodcut sign writing as well as screen printing. Adinkra symbols appear on some traditional akan gold weights. The symbols are also carved on stools for domestic and ritual use. Tourism has led to new departures in the use of the symbols in such items as T shirts and jewelry.
The symbols have a decorative function but also represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages that convey traditional wisdom, aspects of life or the environment. There are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs. In the words of Anthony Appiah, they were one of the means in a pre-literate society for "supporting the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief".
Akan oral tradition dates the arrival of adinkra among the Akan to the end of the 1818 Asante–Gyaman War. However, the Englishman Thomas Edward Bowdich collected a piece of adinkra cloth in 1817, which demonstrates that adinkra art existed before the traditional starting date. Bowdich obtained this cotton cloth in Kumasi, a city in south-central Ghana. The patterns were printed using carved calabash stamps and a vegetable-based dye. The cloth features fifteen stamped symbols, including nsroma (stars), dono ntoasuo (double Dono drums), and diamonds. It is now in the British Museum."...
Adinkra cloths were traditionally only worn by royalty and spiritual leaders for funerals and other very special occasions. They are now worn by anyone, stylishly wrapped around women or men on any special occasion. In the past they were hand printed on undyed, red, dark brown or black hand-woven cotton fabric depending on the occasion and the wearer's role; nowadays they are frequently mass-produced on brighter coloured fabrics....
The present centre of traditional production of adinkra cloth is Ntonso, 20 km northwest of Kumasi"...
Also, since at least the 1980s, both of the pictorial representations of the adinkra symbol known as "sankofa" and the term "sankofa" itself have been widely adopted by afro-centric African Americans. Among African Americans, the proverb that is attached to that symbol- "Return and get it" also given as "It's never too late to go back and get what you have forgotten" have been re-contextualized as a symbol of the importance of learning from the past and as a public declaration by people from the African Diaspora of our connection with our African heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sankofa
An internet search readily reveals the plethora of African American cultural organizations & Black American community based educational institutions with the name "Sankofa" or the use of one of the two pictorial symbols of Sankofa: a bird facing forward while looking backwards with a seed in its mouth or an abstract symbol that resembles a heart. Hence, using the sankofa adinkra symbol to represent Ghana should have been an easy answer to Delta Airlines' question about what symbol to use for that nation.
Here's another well meaning suggestion for Delta Airlines:
Instead of using a depiction of a giraffe to represent the nation of Ghana, or instead of using a depiction of an adinkra symbol, use a photograph or drawing of a kente cloth stole.
"Kente cloth, known as nwentoma in Akan, is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Akan ethnic group of South Ghana.
Kente cloth has its origin with the Ashanti Kingdom, and was adopted by people in Ivory Coast and many other West African counties. It is an Akan royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with Akans.
Kente is made in Akan lands such as Ashanti Kingdom, (Bonwire,Adanwomase, Sakora Wonoo, Ntonso in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti Region) and among Akans. Kente is also produced by Akans in Ivory Coast. Lastly, Kente is worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Akans. It is the best known of all African textiles"...
Kente cloth has also been adopted by African Americans to symbolize our connection to traditional West African culture. For example, a kente cloth stole is often worn by African American graduates of high schools and universities as a celebratory mark of that achievement.
Admittedly these two suggestions are from an African American and not from a Ghanaian. However, it seems to me that both of these suggestions would have worked far better than the use of a photograph or drawing of a giraffe to represent the nation of Ghana.
Example #1: Exquisite Impressions: Adinkra Symbols
7rochelle, May 8, 2008
A short film on contemporary uses of adinkra symbols in African and African diasporic art.
for more information about and pictorial examples of Adinkra symbols.
Example #2: Fresno County 2012 African American Graduation
LeachMedia Published on May 23, 2012
This video is included in Part I of a four part pancocojams series about kente cloth. http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/02/wearing-kente-cloth-stoles-during.html.
Part I focuses on the custom of Black graduates in the USA wearing kente cloth stoles. The links to the other posts in that series are included in that post.
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