Friday, November 25, 2016

Abeng Short Story: Amalaika vs. The Council of Elders (The Palm Wine Controversy)

Abeng Short Story
Amalaika Vs. The Council of Elders 
(The Palm Wine Controversy)
copyright K. Omodele 2016

Amalaika, gazelle-like in body but dragged in spirit, chucked her son all the way to the Circle of the Council of Elders. Bursting with vexation, she beat the over-sized boy with a bamboo-cane stick as the people of the village looked on, bemused, but with sinking hearts because Amalaika's husband and her two older sons had been captured and herded away with a dozen others, most likely to the slave fort hundreds of miles to the south. So, all that was left of Amalaika's family was a young daughter and this degge-degge, thirteen-year old son.

Breathing heavy and fast, the woman shoved the dirt-crusted boy to stand and face the elders. She addressed the council.
"Greetings Elders. This one will not stop drinking - he is a drunk." She wrinkled her nose.
The leader of the council was a bald, creaky-limbed man who nevertheless harnessed the presence of a growling leopard within him.
"Woman, this man-child will be initiating rites of passage soon."
"Yes, Baba." She straightened her back. Folded her lips in a fit of restraint.
"Boys will be boys. One rotten fruit now and then will not kill monkey," the council leader said, dismissively.
"Baba, he thinks he is a man but he does not hunt; does not bring food. All he wants to do is drink palm wine, day and night."
The boy dug his chin into his chest. He didn't move or look up; not even a twitch nor hint of protest.
Amalaika pleaded. "Wise One, if YOU tell him to stop drinking, he will obey. He will have to stop."
The council leader assessed the mother. HMMMMPPPH!
Then the whole Council of Elders roped in together, grumbled amongst themselves for a moment or two, then broke their huddle.
The Wise One's voice waded through a swamp of pity.
"Woman bring the boy in seven days. I will personally take care of this matter, then."
Amalaika grabbed her son by the back of the neck like a lioness transporting her cub, and lashed him homeward with the bamboo-cane stick.

Seven days staggered by; then finally, Amalaika, pepped with anticipation, brought her son back before the council.
The boy once again dug his chin into his chest.
The Wise One growled. "Look at me when I speak to you!"
The boy looked up, head still partially bowed.
Now the old man roared. "DON'T DRINK ANY MORE PALM WINE!"
The boy shivered, nodding. "Yes Wise One." Then, he backed away.
The council nodded and grinned, clearly pleased with themselves.
Amalaika stood still, grilling the council over coals of bewilderment.
"Is that all?"
The Wise One turned to her. "Yes...What more is warranted?"
"But you could have told him that seven days ago."
One of the Elders held up his palm. "Woman, you challenge the council?"
Shaking his head, the Wise One drew the man back and then told Amalaika.
"Seven days ago I was also drinking palm wine."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Abeng Chanting: Satta a Massagana, Igziabeher

Satta a massagana, Ahamlack #TheAbeng

I give thanks for my family and loved ones. There is no greater gift in life than the gift of Love.

In Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia), satta a massagana means "give thanks and praise"; Igziabeher means "Lord (or Ruler) of the Universe"; Ahamlack (or 'amlak) is a more common Amharic word meaning "god".

Blessed Love.
Kaya Omodele

Monday, November 7, 2016

Abeng Recent Reads

                             What We Have Been Reading Lately
                                          Kaie "Kaya" Omodele @TheAbeng

An advocate of self-education, Marcus Mosiah Garvey told an audience in St. Kitts, "Read! Read! Read! and never stop until you discover the knowledge of the Universe."

- Artful Journalism - Essays in the Craft and Magic of True Storytelling; Walt Harrington
- Just Mercy; Bryan Stevenson
- Journalism Next - A Practical Guide to Digital Reporting and Publishing; Mark Briggs
- "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration"; Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Atlantic, October 2015 Issue
- Rise of the Warrior Cop - The Militarization of America's Police Forces; Radley Balku
- Bienville's Dilemma - A Historical Geography of New Orleans; Richard Campanella *


* It's amazing how much Haiti and the Haitian Revolution affected New Orleans and Louisiana

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#wematter, Sevyn Streeter Barred By 76ers

Abeng Editorial Opinion: Sevyn Streeter Barred From Performing The National Anthem at The Philadelphia 76ers Season Opener
                                   by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng

A man of God addressed feuding members of his congregation.
"You profess to love God, who you can't see, yet you hold no compassion for your fellow man who you live with every day?"
This whole controversy over protesting during the national anthem before sporting events turned into a fiasco when my favorite NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers, barred singer Sevyn Streeter from performing the national anthem at the Sixers' season opening the other night. See, the Sixers organization (the front office, not the players) felt that Sevyn's sporting a #wematter (as in #blacklivesmatter ) t-shirt during her rendition would be a bad look, break their policy/contract agreement, and alienate a majority of Philadelphia fans (not me, though), who feel that any protest during the national anthem somehow denigrates the flag, dishonors military veterans, and disrespects the good old US of A.

You don't have to look any further than the insults and death threats hurled at Colin Kaepernick (for his kneeling in silent protest during the anthem at NFL games) for examples of how unfavorably many Americans view these acts of protest. Results from a survey questioning why TV ratings for NFL games are lower this year reveal that 56% of those surveyed hold the opinion that people are turned off by the protesting during the anthem.

Maybe these are the same set of people who threw threats at Muhammad Ali during his "unpatriotic" protest and critique of the US government and the Vietnam war; maybe they would've booed Tommie Smith and John Carlos for their black-fists salute during the medal award ceremony at the 1968 Olympic games; maybe they would've howled at the framers of the U.S. Constitution who insisted on freedom of speech and press, and from the tyranny of government.
Maybe for some, institutional symbols (the anthem and flag) deserve more consideration and respect than compassion for human lives and dignity.

*Editor's Note

After the players were upset by the front office's decision to bar the singer, the Philadelphia 76ers organization has since apologized and invited Sevyn Streeter back to perform the national anthem at whichever game she choose

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Poem: Roots - For Women of The African Diaspora

Roots by Caribbean Poet Cicely Rodway 
(from her book of poems Facing The Wind; 2009)

FOR WOMEN OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA

Her roots are deep
many bloods cruise through her veins
yet she can trace with certainty
her beginnings.

She comes from a long line
of strong woman
the spirit of goddesses runs through
her
the spirit of earth and
sun goddesses
spirits of the elements
the forces
of life
rest in her.

Spirit of Oya
Yoruba goddess of winds
and tempests
Oya
The Strong Protectress of Women
Yes, she comes from a long line
a long line of strong women.
She springs from survivors
from enslaved women
from women
who struggled to be free.
Now,
made stronger by this history
Bathed in the power of her ancestors
strengthened by the faith
and works of sisters
she shapes the world.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Abeng Editorial: Coronated Queens

Coronated Queens
by K. Omodele @TheAbeng

I'm drawn to strong, steely queens who bend but don't break, who may crack but don't shatter; practical, can-do, will-deal-with-any-situation women; Women who throw hands akimbo and laugh in the faces of hurricanes; though a continent removed, women who gather skirts and frock tails, bend over and toil soil under sun; one empress who wheeled a truck all day, then on the refill, struggled with the over-sized nozzle at the pump, trying to earn a check that way.

Centuries ago these women would've stood up, gathered hammers, axes and saws, and built a whole girls' dorm for Old Timbuktu; would've encircled, forming council 'round Yaa Assentewaa while she cranked up.
"Since you men won't fight the British invaders, we women will fight them ourselves."
The type of women who ride, like warrior-queens Nanny, Nyabinghi, Nzinga, like Hatshepsut ruling over Egypt and Ethiopia.


Empresses whose I do's ring true through decades; whose heart-fires slow-burn, turning up in time; sisters who step up in courts pleading for brothers, cleaving to brothers, year dragging after year grieving but believing in brothers. Women of resistance who raise right fists in the air, like Assata, Andaiye, Angela and Bonita; women who stand for their men, stand with their men; sit with their men; never trailing behind but, with heads high, walking side by side with their men. Like Waiyzaro Menen, empresses who are coronated on the very same day as their Kings.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dry Cry (Revised): A Writing From Prison

Dry Cry (Revision): A Short Story
by K. Omodele copyright 2004

This is a revision of a short story I submitted as a lesson for a correspondence/self-paced writing class I took through UNC-Chapel Hill, Friday Center. The lesson was description and the assignment was to describe the student's/writer's immediate setting.

12-24-04   
10:15 PM
I'm stuck in a block with twenty-six convicted felons who never shed no tears. Ever.
I'm not writing in my cell right now, I'm in the dayroom, a rock-hard twenty by thirty feet with a concrete-slab floor and solid-brick walls painted in more layers than make up on one of them frozen-faced geisha girls. Tables are lined in rows. Hanging in a locked, metal frame, a JVC boob tube lords down on its faithful followers. Even with earplugs, I can't drown out all the buzzing anticipation, the constant babbling and laughter leaking through as A.I. and Lebron shoot it out. A muted shout slips into my thoughts here, gasps of conversations seep through there.

Right outside the bathroom, Rasheed hangs up the wall-phone.
"Man, it's brick-cold up in Philly right now. What's up with all these warm-ass winters down South?"
His voice barely sifts through my earplugs. From my table in the back, it's like watching a drama with the volume turned way down.
'Sheed barks. "Yo Frizzle, Grab the horn."
Looking like JJ- Kid Dynomite from Good Times, Frizzle drops a pair of dice and hops on the phone. Must be calling Virginia Beach; yeah, he's cheesing bright as hell. Virginia Beach the only one can get him smiling like that.
The next man up in the dice game scoops the bones, shakes and tosses them against the wall.
'Sheed strolls over to the table right in front of mine. He meets my eyes, shakes his head, sighing under the heaviness of  bars and walls, missed birthdays and anniversaries.
I nod knowingly. Holidays are always rough up in here.

At a table to my left, Wolf and Bass shield hands from one another, dropping cards, piling and scooping them, then shuffling and dealing. Casino - every time you see them at a damn table. Bass is this ever-cool, surfer dude with skin that always looks sun burnt. Wolf is Grizzly Adams from the Mountains of West Virginia and when he opens his mouth, he sounds like a Harley, idling; smells like one too, exhaust fumes like stale Camels. Last week we jumped on him; made him hit the showers. 'Bout time for another fresh any day now.

The Uptown Saturday Night hip-hop mix on Power 98 outta Charlotte must be jumping because the younger Brothers got their headphones up on blast, doo-rags flopping, heads bopping and bouncing, while they catch the basketball game, or shoot dice or strategize over chessboards. They're spitting Jay-Z and Young Jeezy lyrics and, what the hell, I might as well pick smoking back up 'cause the room is totally fogged up - a mish-mash of Newport, Camel and Tops. My lungs are vex and I gotta suck some relief from my inhaler, quick.

Cornered up against a wall, this industrial microwave been humming morning, noon and night, ever since our holiday packages (ordered by loved ones) got hauled off a UPS truck last week. I hear The 'Ville - as in Vomitville, AKA the chow hall, looks like one of them ghost towns out a Louis L'Amour western right about now. Every few minutes the bell on the microwave DINGS and someone yells, "NEXT." The poor thing might stage a revolt any time now. Popcorn, salmon, garlic, jalapenos, sausage and cakes gang up, warring 'gainst a relentless tobacco stench.

In B-block, holidays bring a haunting like forgotten photos and left-behind toys in an abandoned building. Beneath our masks resides a longing only revealed in sunken eyes. Under cloaks of forced laughs and fake nonchalance, we hide our nakedness - our isolation from the world, and we vent this angst in raised brows, grumbles, grunts and gnashing teeth. Everything. Anything. But no tears.

Early tomorrow morning, the big and empty day, we'll rise from our bunks, methodically wash faces and routinely scrub our teeth. One by one we'll bleat, "Who got last?" for the phone. Then, when our turn finally comes around, we'll pull up a chair, burrow into the phone partition and wish our loved ones Merry this or Happy that. We'll carry on catching-up, tender conversations with family and kids. But always, with determination, we grin and smile and absolutely refuse to shed tears.
Never. Ever. Shed no tears.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Caribbean Poet Cicely A. Rodway's Worlds Away From Home

Worlds Away From Home (from her book Sunstreams and Sunsets)
by Cicely A. Rodway
Looking out at snow-capped trees
in the heart of Queens, Jamaica,
worlds away from home
yet home
the heartmind trembles,
rails at the ceilings
lowered by the
for whom the Lady's torch
does not shine bright.

In the heart of Jamaica
worlds away from home,
glimpses of possibilities
sporting chances
level fields
equal odds
dreams of undeferred dreams
fuel the need to challenge
the rigid ceilings
erected for the hounded
lowered on the shadowed
the old new prey
crouched
cramped
manacled
confined by carefully erected
low ceilings
in this new world
where the Lady's lamp shines
shines brightly
only on the chosen.

Cicely A. Rodway, Ed. D, LCSW, CASAC, is a retired English Professor of the Percy E. Sutton SEEK Program at Queens College, CUNY (City University of New York). Currently she functions in two roles: Coordinator of the SEEK Program's Academic Learning Center and the Coordinator of Vocational and Higher Education at HANDS ON Health Associates, an outpatient clinic for people in recovery in East New York, Brooklyn. A daughter of the Caribbean, she was born in St. Lucia, West Indies, and grew up in Guyana.
Sunstreams and Sunsets was published by African World Press, Inc.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The African Oral Tradition of Storytelling in Dancehall: Early B, The Doctor

        The African Oral Tradition of Storytelling in Dancehall: Early B, The Doctor
                    by Kaya Omodele 
(first published in Method Mecca Magazine for @ZigZee)

"When an old man (griot) dies, it is as if a library has burnt down." 
- African proverb

When it comes to storytelling, Early B - The Doctor had lyrics by the bag, plus style in his delivery. I've said it before, I rate a dancehall artist first and foremost by his/her lyrical content - I rate highly the artistry in spoken word. I love it when a lyricist communicates message, experience, and cultural relevance in song. And so, Earlando Arrington Neil was a modern-day griot the way he brought past events to life for his audience.

I first heard him chat back in The Eighties on one of my bredren's dancehall cassettes and I still remember how he related the story of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I's visit to Jamaica in 1966. Since I hadn't even been born back then, my only knowledge of the emperor's visiting Jamdown came from Early B because up to that time I hadn't read any account of the event.
I will never forget the year because the griot sang
"It was the year nineteen sixty-six/ when Selassie I made a visit..."
The artist's words sketched and painted the scene for me.  I saw, vividly,  the rain dripping that day, then easing up once the Emperor's plane landed. I could hear the roar of tens of thousands of people. Early B's words painted the flock of wild birds flying down, then pitching on the plane's wing before Selassie stepped out
"...with him lion an' him stick
inna him military clothes with the sword 'pon him hip..."

Later on in life when I read the details of His Imperial Majesty's visit, the written account only affirmed my mental image which was first created by the storyteller's artistry. Early B, The Doctor, had many songs I will never forget because his descriptions and timing were colorful and exciting.

Other Early B songs that tell stories:

One Wheel Wheely - Early B heralds David Weller and Xavier Miranda (Jamaican National Team Cyclists) and give drama about a crew of youth cyclists riding through town


Sunday Dish - help Early B cook his Sunday dinner; he lists every delicious thing on his menu.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chatting Lyrics: The Oral Tradition of Storytelling

The Oral Tradition of Story Telling 
(Spoken Word in Dancehall)
By Kaya Omodele
(first published as Lyricist Chat for Method Mecca @ZigZee)

The oral tradition of storytelling is intricately woven into African culture and throughout the ages griots/djeles/jelis have relayed didactic stories, ripe with history and moral values, from one generation to the next. Since many cultures in Africa had little or no written archives, these storytellers were revered, as it was they who transmitted the peoples' history, knowledge, wisdom, and moral understanding. An essential component in African oral tradition is its integration of music, which has continued in various cultures throughout the African Diaspora.

The spoken word aspect in dancehall, calypso, soca and other genres of Caribbean music communicates message, experience, social commentary and parody, much like the griots/djeles of old. And when it comes to dancehall, I rate an artist by lyrical content, first and foremost, even more than feeling the vibes of the song. Captivate me first with spoken imagery- make me think; then, the vibes in his/her style and flow can hold me.
Now don't get me wrong, I have liked songs now and again, when the artist not really saying nuttn much, but he/her is riding the riddim with style. And sometimes a song will grow on me if the lyricist's words have a great flow; because after all, it's not just what you say, it's also how you deliver. Like:

Ting-a-ling-a-ling, school bell ring/dee-jays' ears cock-up when them hear boom riddim... - Shabba Ranking

However, I highly rate the spoken word-sound as power; and since lyricists are supposed to be masters of words, I hope dancehall artists will continue the oral tradition of storytelling. Dancehall culture should never stray from the early years when dee-jays were street commentators, reporting the mood of the people live from the street, relating their experiences and carrying the flame of the African griots, the original sounders of the oral tradition, spoken word.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Perspectives from the African Diaspora: Repatriation To Africa (The Business Climate in Africa in the New Millennium)

African Repatriation: Journey Back To The Continent
Written by Joshua Chikudo; Edited by K. Omodele @TheAbeng

Ever since I was a little boy growing up in Southern Africa, Africans have left the continent in search of so-called greener pastures abroad. These Africans had professional ambitions, sought better living conditions and wanted to explore the world. Many became doctors, lawyers, tech professionals, financial gurus, etc. But then, due to declining opportunities in their adopted countries, some were forced to accept jobs for which they were overqualified. For example, some of these Africans who migrated with advanced degrees settled for jobs as domestic helpers, chauffeurs, care givers, security guards, construction workers. In recent tears, I have seen an increasing number of these migrants returning home to Africa, raising hopes that the brain drain has been reversed.

Whereas previous policies, such as those built on socialist principles, drove away investors, today, Africa offers great economic opportunities, with better governance, improved property rights and respect for human rights.


Economic growth in the continent is expected with governments prioritizing political stability and opening free-market economies, which has in turn lured foreign investment. Of course, corruption is another major catalyst that deters foreign direct investment - by multinational companies and Africans of the Diaspora. Many citizens of African nations now welcome new, relentless anti-corruption campaigns. A noticeable example is Rwanda, East Africa, where President Kagame has introduced a one-stop solution which combines all the government agencies responsible for the investment process under a single roof, thereby reducing time loss, the possibility of corruption and other unnecessary deterrents to investment.

In East Africa, the formation  of the East African Community (E.A.C) has a potential 130 million customers. A decade (2004-2013) of 6.2 percent economic growth rate* has piqued investors' interest. American power-houses like GE and Microsoft have found new homes in East Africa, creating jobs that attract skilled workers and professional talent from the African Diaspora.

In West Africa, market growth appeals to the Diaspora community and encourages foreign investment. The market capital of the West African Regional Stock Exchange grew to US$ 15.1 billion last year, up 9% from 2014 (Wall Street Journal, 2016). The eight French-speaking countries** in West Africa that share a common currency( the CFA franc*** ) also share the stock exchange, which is based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The presence of multinational corporations has created employment, not only for locals, but also for repatriating Africans.

The Southern African Development Community (S.A.D.C) welcomes those returning Africans with open arms. Economic and infrastructural development in Mozambique, Congo and Angola have been attracting an experienced labor force of engineers, etc. Countries that had once possessed heavily-regulated economic adjustment programs have openly debated their policies and readjusted them in order to attract investors. The S.A.D.C has a potential of over 220 million consumers and now encourages free and open trade.

The North African region has experienced the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprising, which initially slowed down economical growth. The region, like much of Africa, has been hobbled by political ineptitude and corruption which contributed to migration. Egypt's government, however, has introduced reform through new investment laws that have afforded investors more protection and have created one-stop shops which eliminate long waiting periods for licenses from government agencies. Today, foreign companies are partnering with North African companies to launch joint ventures in viable markets. Such is the case with Vice Media which, in launching Viceland Africa, has created hundreds of media jobs in North Africa. (Wall Street Journal, 2016)

Because of this new, positive climate in private business sectors, Africans in and around the Diaspora are now considering repatriating. Besides the potential for economic growth in Africa, the xenophobic back lash against African immigrants combined with economic uncertainty across Europe has contributed to Africans, and African descendants, reconsidering the future.  Some have already repatriated and have begun business start-ups, thereby creating more domestic revenue and opportunities for local workers. The future for the continent is bright; the political environment is more stable than ever. The business climate of Africa in this current epoch, this age of information, is conducive to bringing in investment, especially for those in the African Diaspora.

* In the top 20 percent of "the distribution of 10-year growth rate world-wide since 1960." (IMF Working Paper African Department: How Solid Is Economic Growth in the East African Community? Prepared by Nikoloz Gigineishvili; Paolo Mauro; Ke Wang)

** Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo

***CFA - Commicaute Financiere d'Africque (Financial Community of Africa)

Joshua Chikudo began his business career in the hotel and casino industry and has over 14 years of experience in business development. He has a long and successful track record helping investors from all over the globe structure and seal investments in a number of countries in Africa, Europe and across North America. Joshua Chikudo combines extensive entrepreneurial experience in various markets with a deep commitment to rebranding and rebuilding Africa. In 2006, he created Consulting JC, a consulting firm that maintains up-to-date market analysis and data, educates clients about socio-political environments in emerging markets and developing countries while proactively seeking new opportunities. 

Mr. Chikudo is passionate about new construction technology that is durable, affordable, energy efficient, and pest- and disaster-resistant (such as Organo and Structural Insulated Panels) that provide solutions in building Africa and countries in the developing world.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Chicken Little and (An Urban Story) Vol. 1, Part 2

Chicken Little: Haunted Blood (An Urban Story) Vol. 1; Part 2

copyright K. Omodele 2016

The minute Glass' gun popped out, I realized - we got set up, plain and simple. How they, and them alone, get guns up in The Turntable?
Then, soon as Mongrel grabbed the tool from out coward-rass Glass' hand, Bull got low and dashed for the bar. That man dove head-first like some Olympic diver, clear over the counter. And the same time Bull moved right, me, Doc, English and them girls took off to the left. Which exposed Shortman with that half-built spliff in his hand.
He looked up but it was too late. With his back against the wall, all he could do was duck as Mongrel and Boo aimed at him.
Then the shots thundered. BADAP! BADAP! BADAP! BRAP! BRAP!
Over and over, booming over the music, 'til even the music stopped dead.
Then, all you could hear was shots. BLAM! BLAM! BRAM!
People scrambled for the door. No screaming, just silent, frantic like ants. I turned sideways, squeezing myself behind a skinny post that couldn't be no more than six-inch wide. Buddy-bye and Mammal ducked behind two tables. Doc and English and the rest of them? I didn't even see where they'd run and gone.
Shortman was taking shots. He tried to run, but the shots penetrated, twisted and turned his body, like he doing the Rocking Dolly. Then he dropped, his navy-blue Sergio Techini sweat suit turning black with blood.
Then, all of a sudden, the shots stopped. Them dutty niggas backed up a couple steps, looked around like they snap out a daze. Boo turned and dumped two shots into the bar before all of them ran to the door, guns held high. Before they exited, Mongrel swerved his tool around, threatening.
Then they were gone.
Two, maybe three minutes; that's how quick the whole bangarang played out - from the time Bull pointed them out to the moment they hauled rass out the door. Later, Shortman said that the first time he noticed something wrong was the instant Bull started yapping with Glass. Everything after that was a blur to him.
Looking back, it seemed longer; but that's because I remember every little thing. I don't panic, even in the middle of chaos. It don't matter if it feels like you stewing in a pressure cooker, you can't allow your emotions to swallow you up.
With them fools gone, the remnants re-surfaced from various crevices and corners. A set of girls ran out babbling, down from the DJ booth. My ears were buzzing and my eyes and nose were runny from all the lingering gun smoke.
I instructed myself: settle down! Find the crew! Don't rush outside into another ambush like some lamb to a slaughter! I looked around the dancehall carefully.
English, Doc, Mammal and Buddy-bye gathered round and I saw adrenalin pumping through their temples and flaring open their nostrils. Bull stomped over from behind the bar and we began searching for Shortman, but couldn't find him on the floor.
The Women's bathroom door was wide open so, slowly, we peered in.
The dingy-white and black tiles had a path of smeared blood leading to a stall. Three girls squeezed together by a sink, flinching when they saw us. One of them hollered out.
"He crawled in deh. He in there!" Pointed at the stall.
Shortman was curled up, hugging the toilet like salvation. His head propped awkward on the side of the bowl, his torso tensed. He was dry-heaving and his sweatshirt  was soggy wet. His footballer's legs lay sprawled like some pick-up stix. When Bull pried his arms from the toilet and pulled him out the stall, Shortman had tears streaming down his face but he wasn't crying; his eyes just shifted looking around the bathroom.
I knew exactly what he was thinking - we got set up.
I nodded.
Bull grinded his teeth hard like he was chewing wire.
Shortman gurgled. "Water. Thirsty." He struggled to breathe. "Gimmie some water." His teeth pink with blood and slobber.
Suddenly, sirens wailed and someone yelled.
"The Beast."
Everybody with us turned to exit, except Shortman, of course. Half of we had warrants, the other half, illegal; so, none of us wanted to take a check. As we filed out the bathroom, fire fighters streamed through Turntable's front door, followed by a gang of police and EMS.
I pulled my Kangol brim low over my brows and walked out, calm and natural, right past them. I kept thinking, don't freeze up. Don't look away but at the same time, don't stare at nobody! That ole crow see fear, it will take set and prey on you; might make this a longer, colder, sitting-behind-bars night.
At the door I turned and saw them people lift Shortman out the restroom and lay him on the floor in front Bob Marley, smiling with his guitar. I wondered what Bob might've been singing - Woman hold her head and cry??
The EMS converged on Shortman like a pack of wild dogs and cut his pants off him.
I stepped into the night and the air slapped me in the face. A news camera's light blinded me. I looked down, brim down; said nothing, just kissed my teeth and sidestepped the bag of excitement. I darted down the alley to where I'd parked round behind the nightclub. Bull had done cranked up his whip and had pulled beside my beamer, waiting. D.C. was bout to run red. Board box under ground by time we done.
The Harshness had stolen our night.

COMING SOON: Haunted Blood - Volume 2 (Chicken Little Sagas Continue)

Read the preceding episodes:

*(this is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual persons or situations are coincidental and unintended)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Haitian Revolution (The Revolt That Birthed a Nation - Part 2)

The Haitian Revolution 
(The Revolt That Birthed a Nation - Part 2: Vincent Oge and John Boukman)
                               by K. Omodele @TheAbeng

How the French Revolution Affected the Haitian Revolution

   After the French Revolution toppled the French Monarchy (King Louis XVI) in 1789*, the French National Assembly issued the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizens. News of these events were carried from France, off ships and spread amongst the people of the colony of Saint Domingue, stirring hope among the oppressed and disdain among the upper classes. Then in 1791, this new, revolutionary government decreed that free, property-owning mulattos (gens de couleur) in Saint Domingue were to possess the same rights as plantation owners. Saint Domingue's Colonial Assembly (which was comprised of plantation owners of French descent) refused to accept this decree and bucked against the orders from the new French republic.

Vincent Oge and the uprising of Gens de Couleur

   The colonial plantation owners sought representation in the French National Assembly, but wanted no representation for mulatto freemen. The colony's own assembly excluded mulattos from representation, which poured gasoline on already-fuming racial tensions. In February 1791, the gens de couleur, led by Vincent Oge, rushed to arms and rebelled against the white colonials. But their revolt was quickly squashed, and Vincent Oge escaped to Santo Domingo (the Spanish side of the island). He was subsequently caught and extradited to Saint Domingue, where he was sentenced to death by the gallows. Right before he was hung, he was stretched and quartered**; then, after being hung to his death, his head was chopped off.
   But by now, the flames of insurrection had ignited. In August of that year, the slaves jumped in the fight and the revolt roared towards a full-blaze revolution for emancipation, equality and national independence.

John "Dutty" Boukman (Bookman) - The Obeah man (Vodou priest)

   John Boukman (Bookman in English) was a Jamaica-born, runaway slave. Nicknamed Dutty Boukman, he was a vodou priest (obeah man)  and as a fugitive, he wandered the northern Saint Domingue  countryside, holding clandestine meetings in secluded areas around plantations. His gatherings were intense with vodou/obeah worship and charged with talk of rebellion. Dutty Boukman preached with insight and persuasion; his mystique was powered by spiritual, esoteric rituals passed down from ancestors.
   In Saint Domingue, many slaves were either African born, or one or two generations removed from the continent. Vodou priests were respected, revered as leaders, spiritual griots linking slaves to their African origin. John "Dutty" Boukman's oratory skills captivated his audiences; and at Bwa Kayiman (Bois Caiman) on August 20-22, he incited the slaves to revolt - from rebellion to revolution to freedom.

The Haitian Revolution (The Revolt That Birthed a nation - Part 3)



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Caribbean Culture: Where Does Winding Come From?

Where Does Winding Come From?
by Kaya Omodele .@The Abeng (first published in Method Mecca @ZigZee)

     A while ago, I stumbled across a website where someone was asking "How do you wine dance?" (you know, winding, wineing, wining, however you want spell winding your waistline) Then in the comments/replies, X-amount of people jumped in with they own answers, without thinking, knowing or even considering logic before opening their mouths. ;-)
     Trinis, Yardies, Bajans, GTs, people from the biggest to smallest islands, everybody claiming is they island, and their island alone, that invented winding. And what's more, nuff of them insisted their island wind the best.

     Then, somebody interjected, writing how "Africa is where the dance originated." But, that comment just sat there, unnoticed, midst the bag of noise that surrounded it. So, make me set the whole controversy straight:

     Winding didn't start with dutty wine (dutty wind) nor go-go wine nor dollar wine nor even tiny winey. There's a reason every island knows it, from Jamaica to Trinidad, down to even Bahia in Brazil; even if people perform it with different styles and in different fashions. And it's because of the one thing we all have in common, but nuff of we choose to forget.
     Africa. Africans. Yes, them - the ancestors.

African Dance

     You see, from the earliest times, dancing has played significant roles in African societies. In day to day tribal life, dances were used to ward off evil, express emotions, display fertility, ask for blessings in peace and in war, and even worship in rituals. Not to mention, dance throughout the continent was also used in celebration ceremonies such as marriage, birth and harvest. In other words, dancing affirmed life.

     African dance is distinct in some ways from dancing in other parts of the world where a dancer's entire body acts as a single unit (you ever see people waltz?). In most areas around the world, dancers are taught to keep strict lines in body flow and movement. Not so in African dancing, where the dancer is almost always moving different sections of his/her body to different counts within the rhythm itself. The movement in African dance is much more complex as the various segments of the dancer's body move in conjunction with each other.

Caribbean Dance

     Now compare this to Caribbean dancing. Notice how in dancehall a woman will move her waistline in a different timing than her shoulders and arms. Just like in soca and calypso.
      Now except for spiritual dances like Nyahbingi and Shango, the dancing most of us do here in the West is celebratory and not so much spirituality. But you can still see Africa in the winding skill Caribbean women possess.
     Some things are just imbedded in the genes. Know thyself and recognize!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Longing for, More

"I was cold and I danced to keep warm."~ Josephine Baker
"Ms. Josephine-" Kaya Omodele replies, "this is why I write."

Suffered a thousand deaths.
caged in an eight-by-ten
a bull in a pen
pacing steps, grunting
confined in concreted spaces
designed to
gut spirit from ribs
and plastic wrap thoughts
in stifling loneliness.

When Lonely oozes through
these cinderblocks
and tussles with my dreams
sucking warmth from conscience;
your photos spark the darkness
with so much soul-rousing light,
your taste lingers, sweet,
like tongue kissing time.

Though you're not here in my arms tonight
your memory I hug tight
I'm so longing for-
sssshhhhhhh-
a hint of your scent
in that Egyptian-cotton, white sundress
wispy whispers, "Yes,"
breathless
essence
of you.
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