Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Christianity in Ancient Africa: Part I

                           Christianity in Ancient Africa: Part I
                                  copyright 2014 K. Omodele

With political friction sparking in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt over the past few years, religious tribalism ignited when fanatics claiming Islam attacked Christians, and destroyed Melkite and Coptic churches in these ancient lands. Wait! Hold up! Christians in Egypt? Soon as we hear the word "Christianity," many of us begin thinking: Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, even Mormon. Say "Christianity in Africa" and image certain images jump up in our minds: European missionaries converting villagers, fattening them up for the colonial kill.

Yes, Eurocentric Christian traditions are definitely perpetuated in the West. However, Egypt in the First Century A.D. was home to many of the early scholars and thinkers who shaped Christian concepts. African Christian societies existed in Aksum (Axum) and Nubia long before most Europeans even heard of Yeshua*. And when we learn the plight of grass root Egyptians under Graeco-Roman rule, we get a firmer understanding of Egyptians' embracing Christianity.

Egypt Under Graeco-Roman Rule
In 332 B.C., the Greek army of Alexander conquered and colonized Egypt, enforcing a tax system on the Egyptian peasantry that was much harsher than the one imposed by the Egyptian pharaohs. Then when the Romans took over Egypt around 30 B.C., their system was even more rigid and exploitive. The Roman Empire ruled without regard for the humanity of the Egyptian peasant. The abject oppression had many Egyptians marooning from their fields- rather turn into a bandit in defiance than beggar or a slave to the Roman system. It was in this setting, in the First Century A.D., that the Apostle Mark established one of the earliest Christian diocese.

Christianity quickly garnered appeal amongst some of those Egyptians most subjugated by the Romans, offering a sense of hope to the down-trodden, promising deliverance to sufferers who endured affliction in life. Early Christians in Egypt shunned the materialism perpetuated by the Roman Empire and preferred living in isolated communes. They developed a tradition of self reliance. They prayed and meditated intensely, contemplating the complexities of the human spirit.

The Romans definitely considered these early Christians an extremist sect. Being Christian those days meant being viewed as a rebel, a subversive element, a threat to the status quo- the Roman way of life. They were deemed radicals against the Roman machine; so, thousands of these early Christians were persecuted mercilessly, martyred through centuries until the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and established it an official religion. In 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine then called for the the Roman church to follow one common doctrine.

*Yeshua is Hebrew (the man was Jewish). The Greeks called him Iesous, which became Jesus to the Romans. Jesus is the Latin derivation of Iesous which came from Yeshua, his actual Hebrew name.

READ MORE:
Christianity in Ancient Africa Part II- The Egyptian Coptic Church; Christianity in The Kingdom of Aksum (Axum)
Christianity in Ancient Africa Part III- Christianity in Nubia (Kingdoms of Noba, Makurra, Soba and Alwa)

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Birthday Letter to Marcus Garvey

                                                  Earthday Letter to Marcus
                                                  Copyright 2015 K. Omodele

Most Right and Honorable Marcus Mosiah,
Greetings I bring on your 128th Earthstrong*. May the Most High, Jah, shower you infinitely with eternal blessings. Your message has lived on and your impact on the lives of millions all over the Earth illustrates brightly that word - sound is power. Before you ascended, humbly, seventy-five years ago, you told us we could find you in the whirlwinds...Some of us may have wondered whether waves of time might wash away your gigantic footprint.

Emphatically I say, this is not so. Many of us have not forgotten, will never forget. History strung up a lynching but ourstory absolves you. We, the People, trumpet your sound through the ages- even this one of information. Avenues and schools, world-wide, bear your name. We write and sing songs about you; read and write books that convey your story- ourstory (you said we should uplift and celebrate our own heroes). Marcus Mosiah, in Ghana (the former Gold Coast) the flag and the national football team are called the Black Star**; in Jamaica you are the first National Hero; in Rasta you are Prophet, complementing Priest and King.

We herald the principles for which you stood on-square. You uplift us still, inspiring us to see in ourselves the image of God. You shouted that there's nothing the mind can imagine that man cannot accomplish- did you ever imagine the U.S. could elect a Black president, one with an African name at that? And now there's an African Union, but Jah knows we could use your leadership there. Oh, did you see your beloved West Indies when we tried the Federation? Petty minds got in our way but you done already know how that goes. Now Caricom is our feeble response to your call for regional unity.

It's not an easy road we've travelled and we still have a mighty long way to go. But rest assured, Ababa Mose, your sons and daughters stand firm, work proud, walk with our heads high; as we trod Jah Earth your spirits breathes within us. Have a most blessed earthday.

Sincerely,
Kaya Omodele

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Abeng Caribbean Poetry: My Church Street Yard (Ode For Ivah)

Copyright 2015 K. Omodele

A black-thorn rose in meh Church Street  yarden.
Smiles bloom there once, then ruff winds hardened.
Wish time would roll back so
I'd mek my old yard know
It's the one place in the whole, wide world I go
when my days darken.
I got meh Church Street yard, now
fold-up in my heart, though
-ripped, torn and broken.

For my cousin- a man named Ivor.
In 'membrance of our final reasoning 'pon de phone,
gyaffin' clear 'cross de Pond:

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the
darkness conscious."~ Carl Jung

Rest now, my blood.
One Love,
Omodele


Saturday, August 1, 2015

EMANCIPATION DAY: Free Our Minds From Mental Slavery

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds."~ Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Jah Bless, Bredren, Sistren, massives and crowd of people; today is Emancipation Day. On August the First, 1834, slaves in the British West Indies were emancipated, which was a big thing then and should still be a big thing to all a we now. Why this should matter to we now- 181 years later?

Well, "a people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots." (Malcolm X) And, if we focus only on where we going without having a clue 'bout where we been, we might walk 'round in circles not recognizing we done already trod down this or that road before. Since life is about growth and development, humanity must learn from and improve upon its past.

Whole heap of lessons can be learned from the institution of chattel slavery, too numerous to name them all - from economic exploitation to ethnocentricism. But for me, the most illuminating principles learned from studying our past is to first see, then respect the humanity in people; resist those dehumanizing thoughts and labels that enable subjugation of others. As that old Bob Marley chune goes, "Woe to the downpressor (oppressor), they eat the bread of sorrow..."

There are seven billion people in Jah world. There is only One Love.
Have a Onederful Emancipation Day.

Monday, July 27, 2015

THREE KINGS AND A KETE DRUM IN DC

                                          copyright 2015 K. Omodele

When Kenny sent the invitation, the kings were tickled by the gold calligraphy and trimming and the request to R.S.V.P. But family is family, y'hear, so that sabbatical morning Irie, I-bo and Bongo drove from New York to D.C., a three-hour ride that stretched out to five due to them getting stopped and searched twice on I-95. By the time they parked at Union Station, they' just missed the ceremony.
Draped in flowing white Rastafarian robes and turbans, they caught sight of all them stiff-necked senator and dignitary types and realized:
"One day when we bent up and gray, we going laugh at this."
"Right. Laugh 'til we belly buss."
A sign pointed out the Clarke and Weatherman Wedding. The followed it like Wise Men trailing the Eastern Star and entered a world of glass walls and marble floors, where spectacular chandeliers loomed over linen-clothed tables. Someone greeted them and they were ushered to a table carded with their government names, while Black D.C. aristocracy, which now resided out in Montgomery and P.G. Counties, sat frozen with jaws bouncing off the polished floor and eyes spread wide as poached egg whites, taking in the sight of the three kings in dreadlocked beards. One king strapped with a Kete drum.
Joanna, the shiny bride jumped up, grabbed her gown tail and burst a sprint over before anybody could blink. Kenny trudged stiffly behind her.
"Glad you guys made it," she said. "Bongo, you gotta beat the drum for me-"
"Kete. Is a Kete drum." He placed the wooden, hand-painted drum on the white linen table cloth.
Kenny hailed them up, laughing nervously. "Bredren, you just had to walk with the drum? Here? Today?"
Joanna shooed him. "Of course they did." Then she announced, "Everyone, these are Kenrick's two brothers and his cousin, my brand-new In-Laws."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

ABENG CARIBBEAN POETRY: CALYPSO (in TENNESSEE)

Caribbean Poetry: Calypso (in Tennessee)
       copyright 2014 K. Omodele


 


So, they're footin' it, side by side, shiverin'
'cross this Chat Town bridge with
pinkened lights, above, mellowing the
late-October dusk.
When they stop, toe the rail
overlookin' a docked-
grounded riverboat hotel,
she whispers, "It 'pose to be possessed; y'know, like haunted."
Then in her smile's incandescent wake the runnin' river shimmers
and the whole surroundin', suffocatin' city lights.

Then when she clutches his arm and
enwraps nippy fingers with hers,
it's like love-cravin' legs, like thighs,
her ankles encircling his back,
drawin' him in close, urgin'
"I'm try'na leave. Nex' time you go home,
PLEASE, take me with you!"

And this is the moment she begins, finally,
easing through his board and zinc fence.
Slips in, slow-ly, inching her way in
for the first time- she, spirited songbird
coos down his soul, entwines their thoughts,
titillates dreams, massages his need
to be needed; caressing wanting.

"Ain't no rush," he'd told her a while before
but both now realise she can masquerade no more
her lingering itch- her longing for
stimulating moments brimming over with Being
followed by endless wide-eyed
world-wide, whirl-wind tomorrows.

Now, face to face, their breathing flutters
hummingbirds suspended
       mid-air
her excitement building,
hovers-anticipating
long, deep-strokin', Rapture-floodin'-a
moon-soaked beach-in-a-hammock-under-
his-palm-tree nights...
             WHEW!
Temperature risin' now, beats throbbin' hot
Rubbin her up- this tropical riddim
tweakin' her treble, reverbin' her bass
pumpkin pumpin', pulsatin' her sumthin'
gradually sweetin', she- ripenin' papaw-
Tempo increasin', gatherin', growin'
now hurricane surgin'
'pon Carnival steel, pulse
pan, pangin'; pannin' and bangin'
slammin and rammin'
jammin' steamily
yearnin'. for. MORE:

BambooFireBurnin'DesireLifeLight
Stars Bright
Moonbeams SPARK
gush thru she heart
Now gallops settle and trot
trembles. sighs. still, now.
Eyes fill with wonder
mind graspin'
pantin'. gaspin'.
She breathless,
Kai so ca lypso
all up in she
Tennessee.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

CARIBBEAN POETRY - Ca-thar-sis II

        CARIBBEAN POETRY:
Catharsis II - The Lost Colony (Rymes in D-Flat)
copyright 2014 K. Omodele


                                          
   
 
See that blood in their eyes?
red ink scripts their rage        
Them blood-fire hearts?
spit flames, scorch up page.
See them weapEns they holdin' like         
Shaka's altered spear?
pick Truth from scabbed wounds 'til
pus oozes, sores air.
Life's stumbles, flat falls?
bruise, etch, batik, stain,
write selves off them knees
dye canvasses rain.
They write 'cause minds barred-in must build in blocks,
Writing absolves scarred-up guilt in blocks,
Verbs purge, nouns foil, in cipher* guilds and flocks,
Stagnate in the box a dream wilts and rots.
They write characters smelted from building blocks
Granite Rocks molten, ethos smithed in hok
Weatherbeaten from storms, ships refuged in-docks
Paradox, they find peace weighin' sin in blocks.
Dormant time is unforgiving like jilted frocks
Themes and plots, narratives tilted clocks
Yielded Glocks, pens now wield in blocs,
Fury and sound settle like silt in lochs.
This is a wright-ers' clique/ with Sonny's Blues
Feelin' zoras and mckays/ kincaids and hughes.
* gathering of MC's, poets in a rap/spoken word session.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

CARIBBEAN TRADITIONS: Ring Games (Small Days)

CARIBBEAN TRADITIONS:Ring Games (Small Days)
                                                               copyright 2014 K. Omodele




"Now when I was a little boy my favorite ring game was this...winey, winey/winey, winey..." /
~Peeny Peeny by Shabba Ranking
As a youth in primary school* I had a rough time concentrating on defending my wicket, or bending a cross from the corner, whenever the girls formed a circle in the school compound and started chanting and, ahhhm, dancing. I can't count the amount of wickets we boys left stranded, or footballs rolling lonely on a sudden-emptied field, as we rushed to join the girls in the ring. Full of mannishness, we sang               
                                                  There's a brown girl in the ring, tra-la-la-la-la....
Whether she black or brown or surnamed Singh never mattered to me. The girl in the ring would prance 'round the circle of boys and girls while eyeing up a partner. Whenever we got to the part
                                                         ...'cause she like sugar and I like plum...
she'd stop her 'lil false-shy self in front of whosoever she liked and pose up with her hands on her hips. Then, as we sang
                                                    Now, let me see your motion, Tra-la-la-la-la
                                                        Show me your motion, tra-la-la-la-la-la...
she'd buss a wine.** Bare Precociousness. Listen, nuh man! I was a force-ripe pickney*** myself; so, I had no problem wining back. Worse yet if it was Miss-what-she-name, or Miss-you-know-who.
My favorite ring game went like this
Gypsy in the moonlight, Gypsy in the zoo/ Gypsy never come home till half-past two/So walk in Gypsy walk in, walk in thru my door/And turn to your partner and show them what you do...
By the time we got to this part, Miss Gypsy in the ring would done find a partner and with that last command, she would show how she could get on bad; indeed, rolling she hips and singing in response
                                          I do not love no-bo-dy/ Nobody love me too...
When you check it out in truth, future dancehall queens learned to bubble right there in them ring games. Notice ladies! In protecting the not-so-innocent and bare precocious, I never called no names. I just fling stone in a pen. Whichever goat bawl out, is she get lick.
        Small days, still on my mind....

 
* Primary school is grade one to six (elementary school in the US)
**wine- also, wind. As in winding the hips and waistline
***force-ripe pickney is a child who acts "fresh", too grown for his/her age

Saturday, December 13, 2014

SEVEN QUOTES BY NELSON MANDELA


                Seven Nelson Mandela "Tata Madiba" Quotes We Love

When it comes to inspirational quotes, Tata Madiba was as thoughtful in choosing his words as he was careful in implementing his plans, knowing he was setting an example. Though laden with introspection, these quotes possess an undeniable universal appeal.
 
1. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the ability to triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

2. "Do not judge me by my successes. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

3. "It always feels impossible until it is done."

4. "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."

5. "No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."

6. "Poverty, like apartheid, is not natural; it is man made."

7. "Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ABENG CARIBBEAN POETRY: Nefertiti's Egyptian-Cotton Sundress

  Nefertiti's White Egyptian-Cotton Sundress
  copyright 2013 K.Omodele

                 
 

Nefertiti never filled 
a white, Egyptian-cotton sundress
with s'much breath-taking grace and copper-toned form.
In that Egyptian-cotton white dress
her smile couldna swelled her King's heart so, like the noon sun
have him clutching her hand, tight so, up Georgia Avenue.
If her King coulda seen what this King here knew-
that vibrant, white sundress on radiant you,
he woulda traded all Egypt
that Georgia Ave. noon...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

CARIBBEAN POETRY: Coconut Tree (A. Haiku)

                                                          Coconut Tree (A. Haiku)
                                                                 copyright 2013 K. Omodele

 
                                                                          A coconut tree
                                 bends and bows in hurricane
                                        winds but doesn't break.          


 

Monday, October 27, 2014

DUB POETRY: Coramantee Heart (The Revolt)



                    Abeng Dub Poetry: Coromantee Heart (The Revolt)
                               copyright 2013 K. Omodele
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
              Re-volt noun 1 an act of rebelling. 2 a state of insurrection. 3 a sense of loathing.
              4 a mood of protest or defiance
              Medsing* thru mind window beyond barred sills, pass the mill,
              Lift mine eyes up to the hills from whence come Jah will,
              I sight Boukman, Bwa Kaiman, Palmares in Brazil,
              Feel like Djuka to de bush and go Maroon in the hills
              'cause teLIEvision, pure derision, images unreel,
              Vanity innoculate me like snake under heel,
              Meh Granny used to warn me "hard ears goin' feel,"
              From chopping cane in the field, now life behind steel.
 
              The wicked carried we away in slave bangles and rope,
              We leggo cutlass and hoe, now tote the corporate yoke,
              But revolt deh in meh soul like gold in Guyana dirt,
              Pull on me Kwamina** pants, button me Cuffy***-link shirt.
 
              Sight, that great Zimbabwe Wall deh masoned by us.
              Lalibela stone churches carved from rock and such.
              Pyramid and Jah Eye inked 'pon the dollar they trust.
              Timbuktu we build that up outta sand and the dust.
              Thru the Door of No Return herded to hell in a rush,
              Plantation by ship, prison complex 'pon de bus,
              Rather chuck miself overboard, "freedom is a musss"
              With meh Coromantee heart and meh Black Carib**** gut.
 
              Wicked carry we away in rusty shackles and chains
              Tried strip we culture and we pride, give we heckles and pain,
              Revolt run thru me like oil under Trinidad soil
              Sharpen meh Coramantee thoughts with meh Ashanti file.
 
              The wicked Cari we beyond Mama Africa breast,
              Far from de River Niger, just niggas in de West,
              But Revolt boil meh blood like the Caribeyon' Sun,
              Meh heartbeat...Coromantee; Hands beat Congo drum.
 
             
              * medsing- meditating
              ** also Quamina, Kwabena (in Twi). Referring to the slave leader of the Demerara Slave  
                    Revolt
              *** also Kofi (in Twi). The leader of the 1763 Berbice Slave Revolt
              **** In the Eastern Caribbean (St. Vincent), slaves escaped to the hills, joined Caribs
                      and intermarried.  Their offspring became known as Black Caribs.
 

             

             
 

             

Monday, October 13, 2014

CARIBBEAN POETRY: Withering Dreams (A. Haiku)

                                                 Withering Dreams (A. Haiku)
                                          copyright 2014 K. Omodele

             Withered dreams are streams
              trickled to motionless ponds.
              Stagnation is death.                    

Thursday, September 19, 2013

SEEKING MAKEDA: Journey Through Affliction (Feeling)

SEEKING MAKEDA: Journey Through Affliction (Feeling)
copyright K. Omodele 2013


Fate's tormenting winds miscarried Queen's grain,
Hemorrhaged essence erupted her shame,
Then, snatched from her bust, King shackled and chained,
Fullness drilled hollow by heart-wrenching strain.

Late Mom's lullabies torched scars in her brain,
Teeth clenched as Fate pelted torrential baneful moments.
Lava, tears lament aflame,
Bare molten sorrow scorched cheeks like stained panes.

Empress Makeda balled fists through stone rains,
Soul anguished, blazing, inflaming her veins,
Scalding puddles waned formed pebbles of pain,
Wise mind*- a sword forged by life pounding change.

*Wise mind~Wisdom

Friday, August 17, 2012

Black Moses Seh: More Quotes from Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Today is Marcus Mosiah Garvey's 125th Earthday.  Blessed Earthstrong Black Marcus, my Prophet. As relevant now as he was then. Don't say that you understand, until yuh hear the man.

"This propaganda of dis-associating Western Negroes from Africa is not a new one. For many years white propagandists have been printing tons of literature to impress scattered Ethiopia, especially that portion within their civilization, with the idea that Africa is a despised place, inhabited by savages, and cannibals, where no civilized human being should go, especially black civilized human beings. This propaganda is promulgated for the cause that is being realized today. That cause is COLONIAL EXPANSION for the white nations of the world."
~ Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey,
 
"I stand before you this afternoon as a proud black man, honored to be a black man, who would be nothing else in God's creation but a black man."~ 1928
"If I die in Atlanta my work shall then only begin, but I shall live, in the physical or spiritual to see the day of Africa's glory. When I am dead wrap the mantle of the Red, Black and Green around me, for in the new life I shall rise with God's grace and blessing to lead the  millions up the heights of triumph with the colors that you well know. Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God's grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life."
~ in a letter from prison, 1925

"Before we can properly help the people, we have to destroy the old education... that teaches them that somebody is keeping them back and that God has forgotten them and that they can't rise because of their color.. we can only build... with faith in ourselves and with self-reliance, believing in our own possibilities, that we can rise to the highest in God's creation."

"Intelligence rules the world, ignorance carries the burden."

"Let it be your constant method to look into the design of people's actions, and see what they would be at, as often as it is practicable; and to make this custom the more significant, practice it first upon yourself."

"Among some of the organized methods used to control the world is the thing known and called PROPAGANDA. Propaganda has done more to defeat the good intentions of races and nations than even open warfare. Propaganda is a method or medium used by organized peoples to convert others against their will. We of the Negro race are suffering more than any other race in the world from propaganda... propaganda to destroy our hopes, our ambitions and our confidence in self." 

"Rise up Black Men, and take your stand. Reach up black men and women and pull all nature’s knowledge to you. Turn ye around and make a conquest of everything North and South, East and West. And then we you have wrought well, you will have merited God's blessing, you will become God's chosen people and naturally you'll become leaders of the world."

Please help spread the word to Exonerate Marcus Garvey: http://bit.ly/KqUrGh


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