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Ally Submission: Twerking Translated by Amelia Hanes 284

In the 1990s, the Mapouka entered the club scenes of New York City with reggae and hip-hop. It was a dance to show religious devotion through rapid hip movements that were viewed as so holy, that they provided direct communication to God. It was practiced in front of churches and sacred places, typically by women who shook their hips to the beats of African music with the Mapouka. It migrated from the Aizi & Allam tribes to the Avikam. It then migrated its way to the United States, and eventually, mainstream America. It was then translated into a new name, a more notable one “Twerking. ”

But, its adoption into mainstream culture dates back to the 1920s when Josephine Baker, a notable Black female artist, created the infamous “Banana Dance”. In 2003, it showed up once again in Beyonce’s hit “Crazy in Love”. But, it was officially introduced by the world of mainstream media on one memorable night. During the 2013 VMAs, a white performer ( Miley Cyrus ) ¨twerked¨ on Robin Thicke. This officially changed the Mapouka's definition. A dance to show devotion to god was morphed into “suggestive” American twerking. If you Google “who created twerking?”, Wikipedia’s answer is DJ Jubilee and his 1997 hit ¨Do the Jubilee All¨, but twerking’s predecessor, the dance known as the “Mapouka”, originates from Côte D’Ivoire, Africa. However, as it spread, the Mapouka would continuously lose its recognition as an African dance.

As a reader, you might be wondering, “How did this come to be?” “Why are the origins of such a popular ‘American’ dance ignored?”

Well, America fails to give credit where it’s due. As Lizzo vocalizes in her 2021 TED Talk on twerking (yes, twerking), ”I think that everyone should know where everything comes from.” And, we should know where everything comes from. We should know the history of what we adopt in our culture. Yet, we know so little. In this day and age, we lack interest in history because we don’t value that type of knowledge. We don’t look deeper into the cultures that impact and influence us. History should not be forgotten.

The problem is that we have been conditioned to stay in our comfort zone. We enjoy trends and pieces of different cultures without exploring the significance and background of our interests. The deeper we understand other cultures, the more we value them. All we need to do is take that extra step to open our minds and learn.


In 2021, Lizzo hosted a TED X Talk on Twerking where she is shown twerking to her audience. Copyright of TED.

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