Friday, 30 October 2015

How to achieve lovely patterns through tie dyeing

The ability and desire to create beautifully appealing work of art has for ages been a fascination for human kind. Dyes were said to have been discovered by primitive men through various uses of plant juices, flowers, leaves, etc. and applying the substances to basic clothes or materials. The practice of tie dyeing in the olden days was achieved through colours extracted from plants and herbs. But the problem with the early dyes is that they were easily faded and washed off. Now, we have a slightly more adventurous series of application for producing different patterns and designs.

The tie and dye processes usually involve folding, twisting, pleating, or crumbling the fabric and binding it with strings or rubber bands, then followed by the application of dye. Our traditional material, which is known as the Kampala, has gone through the processes and finished work of tie and dye to bring out those beautiful, colourful patterns we all see and love.  
Tie and dye is perfectly done on all sorts of materials that are mainly cotton. Note that it is very necessary to wash and dry your item before you dye. There are directions needed to create a specific pattern when tie dyeing, but the easiest way to do so is to take you shirt and crumple it up the way you would like. It should be very messy and rumpled, not neatly rolled or folded; then take as many strings or rubber bands as you would like, and wrap them all over the shirt. With this you can create a pattern with them.
Tie dyeing can be very messy. In order to prevent this, it is advisable to set up a covering away from any furniture or carpet. First and foremost, make sure you have all your equipment ready for the job so that you avoid running around with gloves or spilling anything in the process of moving things. Soak your shirt and let it remain soaked for around 20 minutes in lukewarm water. Don’t use hot or cold water because it will make the dyes less effective on the shirt. Then, prepare your dye. Each dye package comes with directions giving specific amount of dye to add into the water. Meanwhile, if you want to create colours that are more faded or faint, then use more water and less dye. To create a strong bright colour, use plenty amount of dye and less water. You can then wrap your shirt up in a nylon bag to keep it wet and moist.
Keep it aside for not less than 4-6 hours so that the dye has time to react with the clothes. Placing the shirt in a warm area will help the dye to act faster. Rinse out the dye afterwards. With your gloves on, take the shirt out of the nylon bag and unwrap the strings and rubber bands that you have used. Then rinse it with cold water to remove any excess dye.
After all these, you can allow your shirt to hang dry using the sun, or toss it in a machine dryer, but you will have to put it to the coolest setting. After it is well dried, you can iron and rock your new shirt around town! 

 Rifkatu Yusuf

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Easing Grief through Religion and Spirituality

There are many different ways to find comfort when grieving. Some people find that spirituality or organized religion is a source of great solace. Setting up an altar inside your home, or gathering at a specific place once in a while can draw people together and encourage them to share their grief. Attending religious services can link you with a well-defined community primed to offer help of all sorts: a kind word, a willing listener, a shared meal, and any number of large and small acts of assistance help keep people afloat and ease their distress.
Religious or spiritual beliefs may also help by lending larger meaning to a loved one's life and death. For some, the belief that a loved one is enjoying the spiritual riches of heaven, or preparing for the next turn of the wheel through reincarnation can be comforting.
Believing your loved one helps guide you in this world or that you will be reunited in another place after your own death can help you continue to feel connected with the person. If prayer heartens or sustains you, set aside time for it. Read spiritual texts that you find comforting, attend services, and share your circumstances with a religious leader who can help place the death in the context of your faith.

Gardening or communing with nature, which offers ample opportunity to observe the rhythms of life and death in the natural world, is also soothing to some people. So, too, is meditation or yoga. (Culled Harvard Medical School, )


Wednesday, 21 October 2015


When you enter a room filled and designed with flowers, you have this feeling of refreshment, satisfaction and contentment. Flower is a symbol of love and care. Flowers are wonderful plants and they represent beautiful gifts. In the western communities, flowers are cherished and adored. In Africa, like Nigeria, flowers are not really recognised, especially when presented as gifts. People don’t really see the meaning and uses of flowers, unlike in the western world where it can be the best gift to partners, friends, and parents, or even to loved ones.

Flowers can be amazing; their present lights up the atmosphere and brings life to people. Every flower has a special meaning and that goes for the colours as well.
Right from time, human beings have depended on the plants around us to provide food, medicine, clothes and oxygen. Researches are increasingly revealing that plants and flowers can also contribute to better physical, emotional and mental health. Medical and scientific communities are daily coming out with surprising research findings on many ways in which plants and flowers can affect our health and happiness. In Nigeria, flowers are usually grown in the garden at home to beautify the environment. In this case, much attention is given to them so as to enable them grow and nourish well. In weddings, a bouquet of flowers conveys joy, romance, love, appreciation in a way that no other gift can match. When a man gives flowers, he does that to express his interest to a woman.
Asian people believe so much in plants and flowers for their physical, mental and emotional health benefits. Most of their teas are made out of flowers and other plants. They collect these plants, process them and make them into what we now have as tea all over the world. Take for example, camomile. Chamomile or camomile is a yellow and white flowering plant that is commonly used to make herb infusions to serve various medical purposes. They are used for treatment of hay fever, inflammation, menstrual disorder, insomnia, ulcer and so on and so forth.
No flowers lift up one’s spirit like the sight of sun flowers. Sunflowers symbolize adoration, loyalty and longevity. They are very bright and attractive. Much of the meaning of sunflowers stems from its namesake, the sun itself. These flowers are unique in that they have the ability to provide energy in the form of nourishment and vibrancy attributes which mirror the sun and the energy provided by its heat and light.
Sun flower seeds are packed with nutrients and are now being recognised for their healing properties. They have unimaginable health benefits. They are good source of vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin E.

Rose flowers are the most common and popular in the world. This is the most popular flower that most people are familiar with. Roses are the most deeply ingrained flower in the human history and culture. The colour of the rose represents sentiments and feelings that people wanted to convey to other people. Every colour of a rose stands for something and has a certain meaning attached to it.
If you want to convey a message of love and affection, then a bouquet of red roses would be appropriate. If you want to convey a feeling of friendship, then a bouquet of yellow roses would be appropriate. For a special sentiment, pink roses are the right flowers to present, and the least goes on.
Flowers play important role in our lives, even though so many people are not aware of that. It is important to recognise these facts and appreciate the beauty of these plants. 

Rifkatu Yusuf

Monday, 5 October 2015

Man Shanu- the Best Natural Way to Hair Growth

Growing up in the northern part of the country, and as a Nigerian, I know the Fulani people, and I am aware that they are predominantly cattle rearers (herdsmen) or cattle-rearing seems to be one of their major occupations. I have also heard stories and seen how they normally move from place to place providing foods for their families and their animals, and for some other reason why they move from place to place, I am really not sure, but one thing I have heard them talk about is the Man -Shanu (i.e. cow ghee).

 I know a lot of people who have claimed that Man Shanu is good for the hair and can reduce breakage when it is used to steam the hair and also leaves your hair feeling soft and rejuvenated. Apart from its magical benefit for the hair, Man Shanu can be eaten with food or cooked with meals.
Personally, I have eaten boiled yam and coco yam with Man Shanu and also had few drops in Masa; I can’t deny I enjoyed it. Many girls wonder what makes the Fulani hair grow and in the course of finding solution to hair breakage or damaged hair, ladies have tried different hair products. To many people, discovering how to make your hair grow faster can be quite difficult, especially when you want to go it the natural way. But I tell you what, from personal experience, the Man Shanu hair therapy does work for me.
Before we talk about hair and its treatment, it is important to know the hair structure and understand the simple reason for treatments and how it also works. First we must know that the hair is made up of protein called keratin, and has three layers which are called the medulla, cortex and lastly, the cuticle. The inner most regions are the medulla, and are not always present and is an open structure region. The highly structured and organized cortex or middle layer of the hair is the primary source of mechanical strength and water uptake. It also contains melanin, which determines the hair colour. The cuticle is the outer covering. Its complex structure slides as the hair swells and is covered with a single medulla layer of lipid called sebum that makes the hair repel water (according to Wikipedia). Now, constant combing, heat treatments like stretching, blow-drying and chemical treatments like hair dyes, relaxers, conditioners, shampoos can, with time, gradually wear off the layers of the hair strands leading the hair to breakage and thinning. Since the hair is made up of protein, the hair strands can be temporarily repaired by application of protein which binds to the protein of the hair and thus strengthens it. For example, animal protein breaks down into fatty acids, which coats the hair and creates residual build up.

Don’t forget that Man Shanu is cow butter made by Fulani women in Northern Nigeria from the raw milk of their cows. It is really a good hair treatment, but its fault is the smell, and that is why people get uncomfortable to use it. When you apply Man Shanu, you will have to wash off with a shampoo that has a very nice fragrance.

How to apply Man Shanu: Apply directly to your hair. Coat the hair with Man Shanu; massage your hair to the root. Cover with a shower cap for at least 30 -40 minutes, thereafter, rinse with cold water using shampoo. It’s that simple and the result is usually awesome, leaving your hair hydrated and full of life. 

 Rifkatu Yusuf