Friday, July 15, 2011

Silent Violence


Silent Violence
by Kaya Omodele 11-15-07

Lonely bird in a cage croons longingly
Day by day his tune sours, dims to a wail
Until one night his heart bleeds of silence

Caged and draped in only a muffled wail
Shivering, wings fractured, hauntingly silent
Languishes… Laments…Sighs longingly

One final breath, discomforting silence
Peaceful now? Finally, no more wailing?
No pain? Sorrows dry? No further longing?

Forget singing; I know why a caged bird
wails. Silence is Violence.
Copyright K. Omodele 2007
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Spoken Word Griots: African Oral Tradition in Caribbean Music (Second Part)


In Africa, oral tradition was the primary means of teaching a people's history and culture. Griots were adept  storytellers, teachers and historians. African music was almost always pragmatic and functional-it did something. From keeping timing to farmers wielding their tools to announcing a birth. So the oral tradition integration of the spoken word and music was steeped in practicality.

African oral tradition survived the slave ship and thrived in spite and despite the institution of slavery. As a matter of fact, slave holders' codes that prohibited slave literacy worked in the favor of oral tradition as Africans continued to rely on storytelling and spoken word as a way of teaching family/community history, morals and brought-up-cy (values). Throughout the Caribbean, African oral tradition was kept alive in stories like Br'er Anansi*, in Africanized/African-themed proverbs, and folk tales and songs.  Cultural knowledge and values were passed through word of mouth from generation to generation, reinforcing family, community and clan. This is most evident in speech and customs still found in maroon communities throughout the Caribbean today.

That African oral tradition exists in Caribbean music is undeniable, especially when recalling components and characteristics that define African music: functionality, audience participation, its ability to relate and preserve culture through storytelling. Elements of oral tradition that are readily identified include the call and response melodies in Caribbean folk songs like "Day-O", which is a Jamaican mento song originally sang by dock workers loading bananas on ships. A few examples of Caribbean music that display oral tradition: Calypso, mento, pocomania and zouk. 

* the word Anansi in Akan means spider






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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Exonerate The Right and Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey


“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.” - Marcus Garvey

The statement above reverberates the mantra of self liberation with such absolute instruction that Bob Marley quoted it in Redemption Song. It is a command to seek knowledge of self; to learn collective self dignity; to find purpose and design destiny at a time when the African-diaspora was still referred to as Negro, which is the Spanish word for black. It is the instruction of a prophet, no doubt, a trumpet sound, the sound of an abeng. It is a message that is as relevant today as it was in the 1920's.

It is a poignant decree whether read in university or penitentiary. Whether Rasta or Muslim or Hebrew- Israelite or Christian or even if your call goes out to Shango. Whatever the culture, region or class, Marcus' statement knew "no national boundary where the Negro is concerned."

Now just in case you ain't nevah hear, Marcus Garvey was convicted of trumped up charges in an attempt to derail the strides he was making in the world-wide liberation of  Black masses. (Yes I said trumped up because that's what the hell they were. And if you want learn more bout the trial, if yuh nevah read it before, go check di bredren Geoffrey Philp who has summarized the whole travesty) The point is that in this day and time, we cannot allow this injustice to carry on longer.

“Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter”-African Proverb
We need to rewrite history when we know it has intentionally muddled ourstory, wrongfully belittled our leaders. So join in petitioning Barack Obama to clear the name of Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Just a few of Marcus' contributions in the struggle for liberation:
    The red, black and green flag was created by t...                                  Image via Wikipedia
  • UNIA- founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association which at one time boasted up to 5 million members in hundreds of chapters world wide (Cuba had couple dozen)
  • The Flag- the Red, Black, Green
  • The Black Star Line- fleet of ships
  • Media like Negro World which at the time was the largest circulated Black weekly newspaper
  • set blue print/model for vertical integration and cooperative economics for Black businesses
  • championed the Pan-Africanism cry
Some of Marcus Garvey's utterances that have influenced us:
  • "One Aim; One God; One Destiny."
  • "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." 
  • "Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will." 
  • "Africa for the Africans... at home and abroad!" 
  • "Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men." 
  • "Chance has never yet satisfied the hope of a suffering people."
Some of our leaders who were influenced by Garvey:
  • Kwame Nkrumah
  • Sekou Ture
  • Malcolm X
  • Kwame Ture/Stokely Carmichael
  • Nyerere
  • Patrice Lumumba
  • Walter Rodney
  • Noble Drew Ali
  • Jomo Kenyatta
Now one thing The Abeng and My  Conscious Pen wants to make perfectly clear is that while I support the cause of Garvey's name being cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, I do not feel we as The People need to be grovelling or making apologies for him. Garvey was a freedom fighter like Sam Sharpe, Cuffy, Zumbi dos Palmares and held as a political prisoner in the same manner as Mandela, Toussaint L'Ouverture, Geronimo. I don't care how others see Marcus, I and I hold him in greatest regards.


    Here is the Petition http://signon.org/sign/clear-marcus-garveys?source=c.fb&r_by=217693








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