Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rastafari Earthday

And of Zion it shall be said that this man was born there...

Blessed Earthstrong, Jah Rastafari

His Imperial Majesty
Haile Selassie I
Negusi Negast

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ital Is Vital

Ital Shop - Abeng Photos

Why this shop closed, my lahd??

Friday, March 17, 2017

WANTED: Abeng Guest Writers

Greetings writers and bloggers!
The Abeng and My Conscious Pen is seeking short stories, news reports, articles, profiles and essays from the Black (African) Diaspora. Pieces/work must shed light on the black experience, its struggles and triumphs. Content must be informative, enlightening, inspirational and engaging; writers must express and reveal the human condition. Please keep in mind that an Abeng is a symbol of freedom and Conscious Pen refers to the writer's inward awareness (spiritual, conscientious, psychological) of the outward/worldly object or experience about which he/she is writing.
We are looking for global voices from writers and/or bloggers who wish to utilize our platform so their voices can be heard. Please send submissions to

Bless up; don't stress up!

*The Abeng and My Conscious Pen does not currently purchase content; if chosen, your work can serve as a published article for your personal portfolio and each writer WILL retain ALL copyrights. Full credit will be given for your writing.

You can also query about being a regular contributor. Regular contributing writers will be given a profile on our page.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Abeng Interviews Quai54, Paris Creator Bah-Pna Dahane (Part 2)

Interview by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng

"This tournament was first and foremost a celebration of Blacks at its best on the French soil - a country that owes its freedom to the blood of black soldiers from Africa, America and the Caribbean." ~ Bah-Pna Dahane

Bah-Pna, Ralph 'Big Poppa' Greene and rookie Anthony William Parker

@TheAbeng: Greetings, Bah-Pna. Your reason for keeping the Quai54, Paris tournament a creation and production by Blacks was very Garveyite in principle. What was the biggest challenge you faced in respect to maintaining this goal?

BPD: Hi Kaya. No one knew it was based on Garveyite principle. That was a secret I kept within myself. With French people, you have to be subtle like them. Now after all these years they look back and realize that they had the impression of controlling something. Like Mandela said. "Lead them from the back - and let others believe they are in front."

@TheAbeng: I see that hip-hop was a big influence on you. And, you said you listened extensively to Bob Marley's Redemption Song while planning the marketing campaign for the Quai54. You ever listen to dancehall reggae artist like Capelton, Sizzla, etc.

BPD: I listen to everything. Music is music, but the music most associated with basketball is hip-hop. I am not a very big fan of hip-hop per se. It's a music that has lost its core due to mercantilism. It became less educational and [mostly] entertainment. Today's hip-hop has killed black culture.

@TheAbeng: You have a point. By the way, did you know that the second verse of Redemption Song are words from a Marcus Garvey speech: "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery...?"

BPD: I guess most of us grew up with Bob Marley's song and learned a lot from Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X's life as well. Malcolm X, who, as you know was a Garveyite, his father was also a Garveyite and most of Malcolm X's teachings were from Marcus Garvey.

@TheAbeng: Yeah, Man. So, which authors have you been reading lately?

BPD: The last three in December were Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinuah Achebe and Toni Morrison

@TheAbeng: How can we get young brothers and sisters in the black Diaspora to place more value in books (reading) than bling and sneakers?

BPD: It should start at home and we must learn what delayed gratification is all about. Bling-bling and sneakers is a way to be accepted because most of us are lost. Most of us blacks from the Diaspora are losing our roots and essence of being African and proud; therefore we fall into consumerism. We are willing to pa $200 for sneakers that cost $5 to make in China but wont put $20 in a book that will awaken us. Now we wake up and we see that those same Chinese, who make the $5 Jordan that Blacks are lining up to buy, are on the continent controlling our economy...

@TheAbeng: Jah Bless, Bredren. I thank you sincerely for this reasoning and your time.

BPD: Thank you Kaya

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bah-Pna Dahane Created The Quai54, Paris Streetball Tournament (Part 1)

by Kaya Omodele

Don't get it twisted and damn what you heard: Bah-Pna Dahane is the originator, the fire-blazing creator of Quai54, Paris, France's super-eminent street basketball tournament. Period. Born in Chad, Bah-Pna grew up in Lyon, France balling on various courts - swinging tennis racquets and shooting hoops. His love for sports would eventually lead him to earn a Masters degree in International Business and Marketing (he minored in Black Studies and Political Science) from Portland State University in Oregon in 1999. Education prepared Bah-Pna for the corporate sports marketing world and he's travelled extensively; but no matter where in the world his ventures take him, this brother is constantly sounding the Abeng, voicing out against racism wherever he finds it. Armed with the knowledge and spirit of Marcus Garvey, the brother reaches out regularly to uplift the consciousness of brothers and sisters around the Black (African) Diaspora. Such was the case when he envisioned Quai54, Paris.

"France's Racism is different than the United States'; France's racism is more a gas you can't smell but will kill you slowly from the inside."~ Bah-Pna

Being naturally athletic, at eleven years old Bah-Pna was selected as one of Lyon's best, budding tennis players and was awarded membership at an exclusive tennis club. That same year, he discovered the works of Nelson Mandela and also met French Open Champion Yannick Noah; both made big impressions on the Youth.
"Being the only black kid at the tennis club, I will never forget the special attention Yannick Noah gave me. That day in 1986, when he left us he waved good-bye to everyone, except me. He shook my hand, entered his car and winked at me before leaving."

This experience sowed the seed of giving back to his community that would later blossom beautifully in Bah-Pna's life.

Not long after, Bah-Pna developed a burning passion for basketball, which opened him to politically-conscious hip-hop and in turn, exposed him to film-maker Spike Lee's work, for which he has deep, long-lasting respect. Bah-Pna insists that after seeing Do The Right Thing, one can't help but be politically conscious.

As a young man in France, he promptly scrutinized any corporate staff he found short on black employees and executives. The brother blatantly refused to work for or support those companies where he found little or no blacks in the work force.

"I felt the same way as Bugging Out in Do The Right Thing. Where are black people besides the security guards?...

"You feel outraged when you are regularly referred [to] as 'black, but not like other blacks.' In France that statement means you are a sell-out, actually!"

Like many black, inner-city youth, Bah-Pna spent long hours practicing on basketball courts with dreams of making it to the NBA. It was during one of these sessions in 1995, the very day he realized his dream of playing in the League was falling short, that he linked up with Philippe Morin. The Nike executive was promoting the Nike Raid Outdoor Tournament, which duplicated the theme of Spike Lee's Urban Jungle sneaker commercial. Since Bah-Pna had an already growing admiration for Spike, he was naturally drawn to the project. 
Bah-Pna balling with Tim Hardaway

"I teamed up with Nike France only because the Nike Raid Outdoor Tournament was inspired by Spike Lee's Urban Jungle court  featuring Tim Hardaway...     
"...most importantly for many of us who grew up with the knowledge of Marcus Garvey, we were proud that the pan-African [flag] colors were showing up on the Raid Outdoor sneakers. Growing up with conscious rap music, we blacks from the African Diaspora living in France  had a voice and we were able to back it up with the history lessons coming from rap artists like Public Enemy...In most schools in France, we weren't taught about our real history, so those conscious rap artists influenced us to go to the libraries in order to build and strengthen our pride as human beings and people of black origin."
Working in sports marketing with Nike France led to future projects such as the Nike Euro Camp where Bah-Pna worked under the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach George Raveling in 1997. By the time the Nike Battleground Tournament was up and running in 2002, Bah-Pna had graduated from Portland State and was Nike France's Basketball Marketing Manager, handling all aspects of business and marketing concerning basketball; he'd already worked with Coca-Cola France as a sports marketing consultant/liaison during the FIFA World Cup '98 in France; he'd created, coordinated and promoted a charity event called SLAM ATTITUDE from which proceeds were contributed to funding Dikembe Mutombo's hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All these gigs gave Bah-Pna the necessary experience and contacts, and whetted his appetite, to birth his very own tournament.

The Quai54, Paris: The Mission
"Do not follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought."~ Osho
For this natural-born activist and socially-conscious brother, creating the basketball tournament that would one day be France's biggest street ball showcase was a social vision as complex as piecing together a 1000-piece, jigsaw puzzle.
"What many may have seen as a simple basketball tournament was for me a real political statement...My goal was to engineer an event created by blacks and operated by blacks, so we could have a real, black men-made event without begging others to do it for us."
It took many months of brainstorming; he knew he wanted this tournament to be black-owned but had no theme yet in mind. Then one day in 2002, while driving through Levallois with Philippe Morin (the now former Nike executive) to meet with the Paris basketball team, they passed a basketball court that became the catalyst for Bah-Pna's epiphany.
"My first time in NY was in 1995 when I won an award to go film my amateur documentary [about] the impact of street basketball in the U.S.A. When we drove past this location in Levallois, it reminded me of New York City..."
The street basketball-theme light flicked on. Bright.
"I drove back to the same playground the next day and started taking pictures. I sat down and I laid out all my inspiration. I started drawing certain logos and promised myself this tournament would be a success the day Jordan Brand sponsors it."
Bah-Pna's major concern was that the tournament had to be black-people oriented; that it must be a beacon for self-reliance of young, black men in France, to "show the white establishment of sports authority that we were more than just sneaker consumers with a bling-bling mentality."
Teach the Youth, Bahps...Talk to them!
With his objectives loaded in his mind, Bah-Pna took careful aim of his goal. He sought out the elders in his business and personal network and soaked in the wisdom they imparted upon him.
Ralph "Big Poppa" Green delivered an email during a meeting at Nike Headquarters in the Netherlands. "Watch out for Africa," the big man said, then shared stories about NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon struggling to complete projects in Nigeria.
Howard White and Kevin "The Katalyst" Carrol both reminded young Bah-Pna to give back to the community. Always!
When Bah-Pna travelled once again to NYC, Rucker Park Tournament's Gregory Marius kicked knowledge, telling him, "Stay true to yourself and they will follow!"
"Lead them from the back; let others believe they are in front."~ Nelson Mandela

From its inception, every detail of Quai54, Paris was a result of Bah-Pna's diligence and strategic planning. He designed down to the name itself. Each component was carefully considered, then laid and stitched with deliberate purpose and meaning. For example, the name "Quai54" itself: Africa consisted of 54 independent countries; Quai means pier or port. "As many know, during the Second World War, the capital of France was in Africa for some time. Black soldiers came from all ports to defend France from the tyranny of Nazism."
Bah-Pna kept tight focus on his mission and goal when he sought initial sponsorship. In his own words, he wanted to make sure the first sponsorship money would come from black-owned companies, and the remainder by anyone who believed in the cause of Black excellence. He was certain that if he gathered enough sponsorship money, he'd still be able to run the tournament if he fell short of landing a major brand's support.
Once Bah-Pna had gathered everything he needed, he searched  for someone to run the tournament - he needed a face, a front man. Eventually, he reached out to Philippe Saint and Jackie Blangonnet, who were both running the "Basketball en liberty" program.
"Philippe Saint was working for the French Basketball Federation. He was dealing with street basketball and was running this open gym in Paris' 13th district where everyone can go and play every day. I contacted him and told him clearly that I was looking for a young African man who loves basketball and hip-hop so he can be [my] front man."
Philippe Saint got back to Bah-Pna with the name of a player who was connected with hip-hop culture, adding that he could swing by the Porte de Choisy at the Hall Carpentier anytime after 6pm for a linkup introduction.
That's how Bah-Pna met Hammadoun Sidibe, the man who became the front man of Quai54, Paris.
Bah-Pna says:
"At the time I was working on the Nike Battleground [tournament] with Tony Parker and for the Nike account, so I couldn't run two events at the same time. When Mr. Saint introduced me to a fellow African [Sidibe], I explained to him that he would be the front man and all he had to do was connect the dots, the hip-hop environment and the basketball one and just carry the tournament as if it was his. All the marketing mix and connections with the officials and the brand was me, because my job at Nike opened many doors...
"It was important to me that black people take their destiny in hand even if it is a tournament." 
"Hypocrites and parasites/will come up and take a bite/and if your night should turn to day/a lot of people would run away..."~Bob Marley; Who The Cap Fits
History is a carousel; there is nothing new under the sun. As was the case with Marcus Garvey's UNIA, some people only care about what they can get from a situation and so one must be careful about those he invites to his table. Like Garvey, Bah-Pna made the grave mistake of bringing the wrong, so-called African brother into his organization and giving this Judas-thief access. (Editor's Note: This man was not Hammadoun Sidibe; Bah-Pna has not revealed the name of this person to The Abeng.)
When asked why he no longer is part of a tournament he bled, sweated and shed tears over, why he didn't claim it, Bah-Pna responded.
"I had to take responsibility because the person I chose as the Chief Financial Officer ran away with the money. I had no choice than to take responsibility for the loss...
"I should have told the bank that we needed two signatures on the checks for all expenses. I didn't take care of that, so when cash from the sponsors came in, he took most of it and went back to the Motherland with his honey. Life happens, we live and learn...
"I couldn't fight my own black brothers...I decided not to argue and gave the ones I considered co-founders all of it. It was important to have this kind of reaction because we were all interdependent. I was the breadwinner at first, but without their input and connections, we wouldn't have been able to maintain the tournament all these years."
And so, without grudge or vindictive feelings, Bah-Pna relinquished his rights to Quai54.
Bah-Pna reiterates that his purpose in creating Quai54 was to show young black men in France, who believed in "the illusion of inclusion", that they could stand on their own two feet, deliver and be "accepted at our real value". He is adamant about the need for black people to hold ourselves in high esteem and value ourselves as more than consumers; that we see ourselves as creators, entrepreneurs, rulers of our own destinies.
"I wanted this tournament to create hope, so the black kids in France would find inspiration to become general managers, film makers or think in terms of becoming owners...
"Many blacks in France still have a sneaker mentality. You are more praised for the sneaker you have than the books. You are likely to find their room full of sneakers but no library with books."
Amen! Teach the Youth, Bahps; Sound di Abeng!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chicken Little (An Urban Story Haunted Blood Vol. 1 Part 1

copyright K. Omodele 2016 
* (This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual people or situations is purely coincidental.)

It was Doc birthnight we had come to celebrate but every last one of us was tight and frost because, for the second week in a row, the club owner- Mackie, that battyhole, had some new security enforcing people from bringing gun inside The Turntable. So that night me marched into the little match-box dance hall club hard and fast like the Dirty Dozen and posted up in front we wall.

Now when I say "our wall", I mean everybody and they mother know that every, single club night, that space up under the DJ booth balcony, from the edge of that larger-than-life Bob Marley mural over to the women's restroom -all that space is our own. It bought and paid for with sheer testosterone and gun sulfur. Whensoever we popped in, people just slide over to the side and relinquish we space. Regulars knew that; next week, a baby going born in England and he going know that. No long story; no long talk; no big fucking deal.

So, we had we backs to the wall, women's restroom 'pon we right-hand side, dance floor straight ahead. Was me, my cousin Bull, the two brothers Shortman and Doc, Brixton, Dapper, English, Bim, Mammal, Buddy-Bye, Star Boy and Trigger. Buddy-Bye bored through the crowd headed for the bar.

Bull turned 'round grinning and shouted in my ear over the music. "Wha' the fuck do Mackie? A few little shooting and now the damn Secret Service manning the door."
I didn't share the laugh. "I feel naked, no fuck." I looked around the club.
Bull did the same. "Yo, Chicken. Culture and Joe not coming?"
I shrugged. "Ever since Lyla get killed, Joe been acting certain way, like if he is the only man in the whole world raising a youth without a babymother."
"It's only couple weeks now. I feel for him; that man have some real big man responsibilities now."
I thought about it. But what about Culture and Ray-Ray and the rest of them? They don't never miss no party.
I turned to Doc. "Blessed earthday, Bredren."
Buddy-Bye resurfaced with a waitress and two wash basins full a Moet bottles on ice, plus two cases of Heineken and hot Guinness. Soon as he set them on the floor, hands plunged in and rummaged through the basin and boxes of beer. I came up with two Moet, for me and Shortman, who started crushing weed in his hand, preparing to build a spliff.
The whole crew was hyped. The spot down in Southeast was bubbling over thirty grand a day, more than triple the amount we made the first day we set up shop, which was a month before. Not bad for a set of teens - we was definitely flexing, smelling weself.

So, now we're guzzling bottles. The music was pounding, the place ram-packed with tension and swagger. The air, hot and hypnotic from ganja smoke and spilled-liquor fumes and too many black people cramped in too small a space. Girls were winding up they waistlines, riding the booming baseline with perfect timing. Knowing full-well a man's eyes would only linger  on any one of them for a couple seconds, the winding competition between them girls was fierce; you hear?
But as man, we couldn't afford to turn fool over pum-pum; so real road niggas' eyes kept shiftin from predator to girl prey, like young lions scouting the savannah for enemies and food. That possie over there watching that one over there. Man under a constant state of alert.
Shortman reached across me and handed Doc the new-built, big-head spliff, then started building a next one. English roped in some girls, waving them in from off the dance floor. The music slowed to a crawl...then stopped.
Crowd movement settled.
Grammatica The Selector's voice rang out through the speakers.
"Hold tight, all massive and crew. Here comes a chune by the one-and-only Junior Reid, a brand new thing mashing up Jamdung* and Foreign. Turntable LISTEN!"

Junior Reid sing-jayed the intro:
"Moder vamp-ires of the ci-ty/ haunted blood, blo-od/ You coulda come from Rema, you coulda come from Jungle/ coulda come from Firehouse or you come from Tower Hill/ One blood, one blood, one blood..."

When the baseline dropped in, the whole dancehall nearly tear down. It was bare bedlam. Lighters flicked on, aerosol-can torches spewing flames out like some ole, spit-fire dragons. Sirens sounded, a bomb warning wailed. Now, even the lions were prancing, bouncing with gun fingers in the air, busting blanks.
I was thinking, Mackie fucking lucky he stopped we from bringing guns in here tonight, f'real. Or we woulda turn his ceiling into swiss chesses, the amount of gunshots that woulda burst for One Blood.
With the drum and bass and the Moet talking to me, plus the smell of sticky girls and sexy ganja, I was sailing higher than a frigging kite. And right about that time, Bull turned around and said to me:
"Wrangla them over there by the Galaga." He was gesturing behind him.
Soon as he said it, that ole, dutty, stinking crow cawed. Sobered me straight, right and fast. I had to rise up on my Bally boot toes to catch a glimpse over Bull shoulder but I spotted them in the corner by the video game in the back of the club. They were definitely watching us. And when our eyes locked, the four of them fanned out onto the dance floor, skanking like wasn't nothing wrong.
And that was all wrong!

They spread out, bouncing around with some random girls, but we could see them lurking - Wrangla and Glass to the left, Mongrel and Boo on the right. I'm thinking: four of them; twelve of we. Ever since Lyla get lick down right outside the club, Mackie was not skinning or grinning with security, nobody couldn't even slip by the metal detector with piece of cigarette foil paper under their clothes. So, what they could try? We had the numbers.
But then, Glass dallied through the crowd, rushing over to our wall. Off pure reflex and instinct, my gun hand dug down into my pants waist, knowing better, but still hoping to God for a miracle.
Shit! Heard that crow caw again. I definitely wasn't high no more.

Let me tell you, Bull solid like a pillar or post, so it was hard to see over and around his shoulder. Next thing I know, though, Glass was standing with his hands buried in his jacket pockets, ranting and railing off, nearly chest to chest with Bull. I couldn't hear a word for sake of the thumping music; but he was running off his mouth non-stop and I knew it was gun talk, wicked talk, cause he was screwing up his mouth like he sucking a green mango or something so. His hands were poking around in his pockets emphasizing whatever foolishness was coming out his mouth.
On my left, Doc and English inched wide. Shortman, on my right, ain't notice nothing yet and his short rass definitely couldn't see over Bull or the crowd, so he was still picking stems out the weed, preparing to roll.
And then, Mongrel and Boo squeezed through the crowded floor and drew up beside Glass, who on cue, backed a Glock .40 out his coat pocket and carried on chatting even more fuckery, going on like a real, big-pussy gyal, now that he had representation beside him.
I gripped the Moet bottle neck. Doc and English did the same.
Bull inched up, closing the gap between him and yappy-yappy mouth Glass. Which in, caught Glass in a place somewhere between disbelief and feeling disrespected. His eyes bulged with confusion.
Mongrel looked at Glass with sour disgust, spit some cuss words at him and snatched the tool right out his confederate's hand. At the same time, Boo backed out a nine millimeter. In one fluid, in-sync motion, the two of them raised the machines and aimed.

Haunted Blood Part 2 Coming soon

My Journey Getting Published by Kaya Omodele

My Publishing Journey
by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng #TheAbeng

My book The Abeng and My Conscious Pen: Cries of Redemption is now in the hands of my editor.

The challenges getting a book published while behind a prison fence are many; obstacles jump up outta darkness like duppies/jumbies in the night. A problem will inevitably roll up like some old higue wanting to suck out all your energy and joy, threatening to transform your process into a nightmare.

But don't worry! Problems are mere opportunities to find creative solutions; so, fret not thyself. The ancient Egyptians found ways to time and harness the disastrous overflowing of the Nile; they converted destructive annual flooding into irrigation from which sprang one of the world's earliest and greatest civilizations. In other words, they made sugar outta ssshhhh (shingles ;-)  )

So, right about now, I'm saying "Big up!" to my very own team of ancient Egyptians:
  • My editor Tynisha from Dasheen Magazine and Camelitta Ink & Co...
  • My publisher Sabrina from Beneath The Surface, Publishing...
  • My production manager/marketing and sales specialist Rene...
  • And Midnight Express Books for helping me maintain The Abeng and My Conscious Pen platform, not to mention my sanity.

I give nuff thanks and honor, Ladies.
It takes a village, people.
Bless up,
Kaya Omodele

#TheAbeng #abeng

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)


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
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
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.
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.

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
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.
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