It’s the end of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and for many, undoubtedly a time of numerous visits to extended family. And if you are lucky enough, you might just have that one old school relative whose household is literally frozen in time circa 1980’s / early 1990’s. So in honour of these folk and for the sake of taking a trip down memory lane, here are some of things you might find in an ‘old school’ Afropolitan living room (I think everyone will be able to relate) but especially if a) you were were born / raised in the 1980’s and b) West African or Caribbean heritage.
1. The display cabinet filled with ridiculous amount of ornaments– I remember my dad having a collection from his various travels including mini porcelain figurines of random things like animals.
2. The net curtain– We like our privacy and they also look pretty.
3. The faux brick wallpaper- This was the pinnacle of interior design amongst London based Nigerians in the 1980’s I kid you not. My dad was a trendsetter but also painter / decorator and was one of the first in his friendship circle to rock this. Shortly afterwards a number of his friends began to follow suit.
4. The mini bar– A strictly ‘no go’ area for children because of all the pretty crystal, but I have fond memories of my parents entertaining their guests ‘behind the bar’.
5. The pot plants or fake flowers– There is always some sort of foliage (real or fake) usually with a slight tropical twist in the living room.
6. The beaded curtains– This is one of the abiding memories I had of visiting my best friend’s house (she is of Caribbean descent) and the authentic brown beaded curtains in the hallway (a touch of ‘back home’.)
7. Religious iconography– If you grew up in a culturally ‘Christian’ household there will almost certainly be some item conveying this. We had the image of a ‘White’ Jesus, the serenity prayer carved in wood and the rosary hanging near the front door.
8. African wood carvings-beautiful (sometimes not actually-a few could be downright scary), hand-crafted, mahogany carvings and statutes like this one were everywhere in our living room.
9. A sound system with the gigantic speakers – ( i.e. A record player or CD/cassette player combo)- A true Afropolitan would have at least one of these in their music selection. A) Country music: Jim Reeves for Christmas B) Motown classics: Stevie, Four Tops, Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye C) Reggae: Bob Marley/ Dennis Brown D) Original Afrobeat: Fela / King Sunny Ade / Ebenezer Obey /Dr Orlando Owoh E) Soul: Luther Vandross/ Barry White / Alexander O’Neal F) Pop: Bobby Brown / Madonna (yes Marge think ‘Into the Groove’ ) UK: Aswad / Soul to Soul.
10. Mirrors- Growing up we had mirrors in EVERY room except the kitchen.
11. Family photos- whether they be on the wall, on the mantle piece or in photos albums, there is always a family photo collection containing, but not limited to; the dreadful standard school photo (with mum always quibbling about the price but paying it anyway ); the cheesy pose I.e. Your parents looking into the distance, hand on hips or leg hitched on a raised platform or better still donning the trends of the day – think Shoulder pads, Jherri Curls and Afros.
12. The ‘pregnant’ TV– the bigger the better (those born after 1997 won’t understand the struggle).
What do you remember from your childhood? Is there anything I have missed?