Sisters, are you not working up to your sexiness potential? Do men ignore you as 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: Dion Goma.
The subject of Senegalese filmmaker Mansour Sora Wade's short film, “Aida Souka,” Dion Goma is an ancient tradition used to capture the attention and affections of men shared between West African women.
In the film Kine, a young Senegalese woman frustrated with her man's oblivion to her sexual prowess, goes to see a dryanke (a village hot-momma), who schools Kine in the art of being a woman. Kine must undergo a full-out makeover, which includes wearing a string of beads around her waist that have been soaked in special incense, called Aida Souka.
The film heats up when Kine's preparations pay off. Kine gets her Aida Souka on, and her man--and all 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 was unable 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&A's with some Malian and Senegalese sisters and brothers to get the 411 on this African groove-getter.
All the folks I spoke with were tickled by this African-American's quest for some Aida Souka schooling, because according to them, the mystical-mojo is for real.
I've combined all the information from my modern-day griots and devised this easy guide to African-style sexiness. You're welcome.
1. SKINNY WOMEN STAY AWAY.
According to the brothers I surveyed, a key ingredient in creating the appeal is meat. There doesn't have to be a lot, but there must enough to create some added movement. A little jiggle is part of the sizzle!
2. THE DION GOMA WOMAN DOES NOT LOOK WESTERN.
She adorns herself with lots of African jewelry, wraps her head in a gele, and wears traditional African garb. She is aware of her heritage and celebrates her culture. No mini-skirts and tube-tops allowed. The sexiness does not come from how much skin you expose, but from how you carry yourself. (Note to self: send this article along with African garb to Lil' Kim as an early Kwanzaa gift).
3. THE BLACKENING OF THE GUMS
This, for me, is optional. Blackening the gums is the painful and bloody practice in which a black powdery substance is smeared on the gums, and then a needle is used to prick the gums many times quickly. According to tradition, dark gums make teeth appear brighter, thus creating a more beautiful smile. And to think, some black Americans are ashamed of their dark gums. Smile on black people, smile on!
4. THE WALK
This may be the most important ingredient because it's a woman's introduction to the world: her stroll. Confidence is a must! Know where you're going, both literally and figuratively. Traditional African women have excellent posture, stemming from balancing all sorts of things on their heads. This 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 where the jiggle wiggles its way in. A skill in isometrics, you want your head, shoulders, neck and chest to be poised and controlled; but your derrire and hips to take on a rhythm of their own. You all know what I'm talking about.
5. THE BEADS
The final element. I like to call them “belly beads,” some call them “bin-bin” or “Aida Souka.” These are beaded belts, which are saturated in a sacred perfume and worn a little bellow the waist or on the hip. Wear a few of them together, so they jingle when you walk. 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 embrasses the natural beauty of 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. Everything else in this article can compliment your own self-respect and self-love, but nothing can ever 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.