A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Get Your "AFRIQUE" On..
By Nya Joy PaytonNya Joy Payton
Sisters Are you not working up to your "sexiness" potential?

Are no heads turning when you stroll down the street?

Do you not even have a stroll?

Do you need to find your groove? - or get it back?

Well, here's a clue. It's some "secret sexiness" that Malian, Guinean, and Senegalese women have known for years it's called Dion Goma.

This was actually the subject of Senegalese filmmaker Mansour Sora Wade's short film titled Aida Souka, and it's an ancient tradition shared by some West African women in an effort to capture the attention and affections of men.

In the film Kine, a young Senegalese woman frustrated with her man's unawareness of her sexiness, goes to see a dryanke (village hot-momma), who schools her in the art of being a woman. Kine must undergo a full-out makeover, which includes wearing string of beads that have been soaked in special incense around her waist called Aida Souka.

The preparations pay off! Kine gets her Aida Souka on, and her man (and all the other men) cannot keep their eyes off of her.

Being the culture inquisitive person that I am, I wondered about this womanly custom. Is it real? Does it work? (Not that I personally need it). Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any formal written information on Dion Goma, but since we, as a people, traditionally log on to the oral information superhighway to pass down information, I arranged a few informal Q & As with some Malian and Senegalese sisters and brothers to get the 4-1-1 on this African groove-getter. 

All of the folk I spoke with were tickled by this African American's quest for some Aida Souka schooling, and according to them, the mystical mojo is real.

I've combined all the information from my modern-day griots and devised this easy guide to African-style sexiness (aka, Dion Goma for dummies).
First thing's 1st:
According to the brothers I surveyed, a key ingredient in creating the appeal is meat. It doesn't have to be a lot, but enough to create some added movement. Apparently, the jiggle is part of the sizzle!
Next is the over-all image: 
She adorns herself with lots of African jewelry, wraps her head in a gele, and wears traditional African garb. She appears aware of her heritage and celebrates her culture. No poom-poom shorts and tube-tops please! The sexiness comes not from how much skin you expose, but from how you carry yourself. (Note to self, send this article along with some African garb to Lil' Kim as an early Kwanzaa gift).
This, for me, is optional. It's a painful and bloody practice in which a black powdery substance is smeared the gums, and then a needle is used to prick the gums many times quickly. Dark gums make teeth appear brighter and according to this tradition, and creates a more beautiful smile. And to think, some Black Americans are ashamed of their dark gums smile on Black people smile on!

This may be the most important ingredient because this is a woman's introduction to the world - her stroll. Confidence is a must! Look like you know where you're going, both literally and figuratively. Traditional African women have excellent posture, stemming from balancing all sorts of stuff on their heads, which creates an erect back, strong elongated neck, and impeccable balance. Charm and modeling schools in the west use this same practice to train young women to walk by making girls strut with books balanced on their domes.

Another important element in the walk is the switch. This is a true skill and art form, and is where the jiggle wiggles its way in. This is a skill in isometrics whereas you want your head, shoulders, neck and chest to be poised and controlled - but your derrire and hips need to take on a their own rhythm, so to speak. (You all know what I'm talking about).

This is the final element. I like to call them belly beads, some call them bin-bin or Aida Souka. They are beaded belts, which marinate in a sacred perfume and are worn a little bellow the waist or on the hip. Wear a few of them together, so they jingle when you walk, and if/when a man gets close enough, the incense is said to drive him wild. I personally haven't gotten a whiff of this lust potion yet, but I have a shipment coming to me from Senegal next week.

I like to look at Dion Goma as an alternative to western beautification rituals, because it's more embracive to Black women. However, the key element to being beautiful has nothing to do with your smile, walk, or the way you smell the key is loving yourself first. All that other stuff can only compliment your own self-acknowledgement and self love, but they can never substitute it!
This article was first published in the August 2001 issue of “The AFRican.” The late Nya Joy Payton was our founding Creative Editor.