African Music Festivals and cultural appropriation

Let me tell y'all, I love me some Nairobi. Its so damn vibrant and artistic, its exciting to see how young people are turning the city into a major player in music, art, and food.

The first annual Africa Nouveau festival happened this Fall, and it  paired all the things new Nairobi has to offer. The festival is meant to be "a socio-political gathering to express our desires for new commitments from African Governments to adopt and deliver the Global Sustainable Development Goals so as to create a new Africa that corresponds with the aspirations of the African population.” PREACH! Live music, art installations, fashions?! Whyyyy oh whyyy must I be stuck in DC when such important movements are happening on my continent?

Seriously, look at these cool freaking Nairobi kids, I've never seen septum rings looks so good.

I saw these lovely photos on Okay Africa's page and of course scrolled down to see the comments section which never fails to pull me in. I found this interesting comment during my trolling session:

Listen, let me say this, I do not subscribe to the notion that African Americans culturally  appropriate African culture (my partner, who is African American, thinks otherwise but that's for another blog post). I think that black people across the planet are genetically and ethnically tied to Africa, thus making African culture theirs as well. What I do no like is when African American's try to pull the "oh yall trying to be like us/trying to take that from us" card. How are Africans in Africa, wearing head wraps and dashikis trying to be Afro-punkish?! AFRO PUNK is Africa, these are Africans: they are where the Afro punk esthetic came from. I guess there is a trigger that is pushed with me when African American women try to tell me how to do my head wrap, when I see tribal markings and am not sure what they symbolize because its become a free for all, or when you see the mass production of dashikis in cheap fabric. Like, man, as an African, none of this seems very authentic at all? I understand the need for African Americans to take what they do enjoy about African culture and make it their own, but I sometimes feel like there is a total disregard for where all these looks, dances, and symbols come from and what they mean. For example, why are you putting white dots on your face? In Cote d'Ivoire you actually put white lines around your eyes to symbolize that you have just given birth. Again, I am not saying this is cultural appropriation, but as we are all children of the continent, I just hope that the African symbolism behind these "Afro-Punkish" looks is not lost in a sea of instagram posts. Rant over.