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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Canto das Três Raças (The Chanting of the Three Races) by Clara Nunes ~ Translated by Cecilia Beatriz Silveira-Marroquin

Canto das Três Raças – by Clara Nunes
(The Chanting of the Three Races – by Clara Nunes)
Composed by: Mauro Duarte e Paulo César Pinheiro


Song Video (Click here to listen to Clara Nunes' The Chanting of the Three Races)

Ninguém ouviu
Um soluçar de dor
No canto do Brasil
Um lamento triste
Sempre ecoou
Desde que o Índio guerreiro
Foi pro cativeiro
E de lá cantou

Negro entoou
Um canto de revolta pelos ares
No Quilombo dos Palmares
Onde se refugiou
Fora a luta dos Inconfidentes
Pela quebra das correntes
Nada adiantou
E de guerra em paz
De paz em guerra
Todo o Povo dessa terra
Quando pode cantar
Canta de dor
ô, ô, ô, ô, ô, ô ô, ô, ô, ô, ô,
E ecoa noite e dia
É ensurdecedor
Ai, mas que agonia
O canto do trabalhador
Esse canto que devia
Ser um canto de alegria
Soa apenas
Como um soluçar de dor ...

Nobody heard
The sobbing of pain
In Brazil’s chanting
A sad cry
Always echoed
Since the Indian warrior
Went in captivity
And from there, he sang
The Black echoed
A revolt chanting through the air
In the Palmares Kilombo
Where he took refuge
Besides the fight of the Inconfidentes
By the breaking of the chains
Nothing else worked
And from war to peace
From peace to war
All the People of this land
When they can sing
Sing in pain
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
And it echoes night and day
It is deafening
Oh, what an agony
The worker’s chanting
This song that should have been
A song of joy
It just sounds
Like a sobbing of pain ...
________________________________


Translated by Cecilia Beatriz
 Silveira-Marroquin

Abeng and My Conscious Pen readers, for starts I decided to translate this song for you, not only because it is one of my very favorite Brazilian songs of all times and because it is sung by this amazing singer, Clara Nunes who is no longer amongst us, but because it is about the Palmares Kilombo. I urge you to listen to it, following the translation.
What is interesting about it, is that it shows how the collaboration of the three races was important for the survival of the Kilombos. For some reason, it is almost never mentioned that the Indigenous Natives and the Inconfidentes (Whites who were actively working against African slavery in Brazil) were fundamental for the success of the Kilombos.
This singer, Clara Nunes, was very outspoken about the cultural mix in Brasil and the richness that it brought us, especially from our African roots. Most of her songs are about that. She was an amazing musician and human being…. her premature death due to medical error during a minor surgery, left a hole in the hearts of Brazilians of all heritages.
~ Love,
 Cecilia


Cecilia Beatriz Silveira-Marroquin was born and raised in Brasil but
lived most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area, California where she mostly worked in the legal field. Cecilia has a degree in Paralegal Studies
and Criminology. Now back in Brazil, after 37 years, she makes a living
by teaching English and is a published writer. Her book Real Dreams and Daydreams: Sonhos Reais e Devaneios 
can be purchased on Amazon.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Abeng Op-Ed: Are Many African-Americans Still Disconnected From Africa? by Joshua Chikudo

 Many Young African Americans Are Still  Disconnected From Their African Roots

                   By Joshua Chikudo August, 2017

"You Africans look like some of us African Americans" a young man accompanied by his girlfriend said to me as we waited for our beverages at a starbucks in South Florida. The statement caught me by surprise, how could somebody know I was African in a community full of so many  Caribbean immigrants. I had been mistaken for a Jamaican or Haitian in the past, but rarely called African American. I then remembered I had just finished telephone conversation with one of my African brothers before I placed the order. 

Now, the first thing that came into my mind was this African saying: "A father does not look like the son; it is the son that looks like the father". Since I have always enjoyed sharing the culture, politics and business knowledge of our African people and I have always assumed that African history or heritage is not taught in-depth at most American elementary schools, I was extremely eager to answer any questions the young couple had regarding Africa, our people and culture. I invited them to an empty table. My father always said there were no stupid questions in life, so I answered every question as best as I could.

One of the questions the young man posed was why so many different cultures existed amongst black people. Since the majority of African-Americans descended from the West African region, we can clearly see African culture in those parts of the United States where African Americans reside. And also, though African cultures vary, many share similar fundamental beliefs. But the slave era interrupted the continuity of culture when Africans were brought to America.


Though Europeans primarily orchestrated the slave trade, corrupt chiefs also played a significant role. Our communities were too welcoming which led to the success of the slave trade. The traders took advantages of our hospitality; our people were overpowered by better weapons and many of our strong men and women were forced into captivity in foreign lands


It is in these lands where their culture was altered to fit their masters' desires. The slave system ensured that our people lost contact with Africa. So much of African-American culture has European influence; however, if one looks deeper one can see some semblance of African culture within African America.

I was astonished when the young couple asked me why Africans believe in voodoo and if we believed in God. Many Westerners and Americans view African spirituality as evil. In Southern Africa many of us have always believed in the Higher power, The Almighty( Uthixo in Ndebele/Zulu, Mwari in Shona). Communities communicated with the higher power differently depending on the  specific culture.
Our ceremonies have been portrayed as voodoo by those who do not understand our practices. In many ceremonies we invite the spirits of our departed( Amadlozi in Ndebele/ Zulu, Vadzimu in Shona); we ask them for continual spiritual  guidance while relaying our prayer requests to The Most High.
Some people believe that African spirits can harm others by relaying bad energy to a targeted individual.(Ubuloyi in Ndebele/ Zulu, Kuroya in shona)

The first Europeans settlers that came to Africa did not approve of our worship. They introduced the Bible, their version of Christianity: God The Father was white, God's son Jesus was white, The Holy Ghost, too, was white. In their eyes everything had to be white to be pure.
These same people brought the idea that the devil Lucifer and our African beliefs were black and satanic. These views helped shape the African-American misconception of African cultures. Today Africa practices a variety religious beliefs; Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Rastafarian and traditional African animism contrary to Western media portrays.

Our conversation had gone on for an hour before the young couple asked me a very complex question: Why Africa was so poor, undeveloped, backwards and full of diseases? Most African Americans I have met are taught to glorify white-American and European culture. Images have been implanted in their minds that Africa is back-wards and primitive. Media outlets fail to share the growth and progression taking place across the continent. 
Many subscribe to the propaganda that broadly paints African governments as corrupt dictatorships. While there are still a few corrupt and undemocratic regimes, the vast majority of Africa is now stable.

Africa has a young population that seeks the same peace, financial stability and security that younger generations in the West seek. African Millennials, like Millennials all over the world, are spearheading technological advances that are helping to diversify and globalize African economies.
Some of these young African inventors and innovators are helping to change people's lives in many positive ways. I recommend those who like to learn about some of the progressive innovations that the continent has taken to read Ashish Thakkar's " The Lion Awakes" which highlights some of the many advances occurring in the motherland. 

Africa has been responding successfully to disease outbreaks. Since the 2014 and 2016 Ebola Deadly virus in the West Africa which left 11300 people dead( Wall street Journal; July, 2017). With the help of the World Health Organization and other NGOs, western doctors and African personnel, Africa managed to contain the disease. Even when it resurfaced in Congo ( Kinshasa) Africans contained the disease. Diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis are now controllable. When it comes to AIDS, people are more educated about safe sex, avoiding infection and and adhering to available medication.

I concluded our conversation reiterating that Africa has evolved and continues to better its communities. I let the young couple know that having members of their generation connecting with their heritage will indeed be a great asset to the continent.
If we can get some of these educated, professional Africans in the Diaspora to come home to empower communities with productive wisdom and technological knowledge, we can catch up with the developed world faster and be better sales people for the continent.

Mr Joshua Chikudo

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Abeng Presents: Cries of Redemption

Cries of Redemption: Songs of Life
.@The Abeng #abeng #literature


Re•demp•tion
:the act, process, or an instance of redeeming

Re•deem
transitive verb
2: to free from what distresses or harms: such as
  a: to free from captivity by payment of ransom
  b : to extricate from or help to
Cries of
Redemption
overcome something detrimental
  c: to release from blame or debt :clear
  d :to free from the consequences of sin

3: to change for the better : reform
4: repair, restore

My Little Sister commanded this book be created. She damn near demanded I compile Cries of Redemption from some of my writings she'd read. She's always twirling me 'round her little finger, so you know she got her way - as a big brother, ain't too much I denying my Baby Sis.

So, even though Cries of Redemption wasn't supposed to be my debut, here it comes. It's a variety book: story and rhyme (prose and poetry), joy and pain, sensible and little bit schupidy (jokey or playful).
But I'm sharing my reflections on them pages. Even when the stories are not about me, they're my perceptions, still. I'm a writer because I want my voice, no I need my voice to be heard. This is why I write. And like Steve Biko, I Write What I Like!
Jah Bless
K. Omodele
Cries of Redemption, coming November, on Amazon.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The African Diaspora: Scenes From Kingston - Maxfield /Whitfield Ave. Area

Scenes From Kingston, Jamaica

(Maxfield, Whitfield areas)



Throughout the African diaspora, in communities where poverty persists, reliable water for drinking, cooking and washing can be a major problem. Outdated water-works systems contribute to mainline leakage and water shortage. Water pressure is often low and water cuts can last for days

at a time.


 
Standpipe



The African Diaspora: "Pure" Drinking Water in Nigeria

Scenes from Nigeria-  Pure Water

.@theabeng 


In Nigeria it is called “pure water”.
It's  water for the poor even though it’s not all the poor that can afford it. The price is 10 naira.
Benny @TheAbeng
Africa
We also have tap water that they sell in a bucket; one bucket is either 10 naira or 20 naira. People who can afford it will go for the tap water, while table water is 50 naira.
Because clean drinking water is often a problem for poor people, "Pure water" has been a means to sustain life in many part of Nigeria.
It’s also a means of livelihood - people sell it to earn a living. Even though I’m not 100 percent sure about the hygiene, I think it has help so many lives.

Sometimes even the poorest people can afford it. And when you walk in some of the streets of Lagos, you will see pure water used packs every where; and, that is a sign that its helping lives.









~ Benny Dalle ; 
Benny @ The Abeng Africa
#abeng
#africandiaspora


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Abeng Interviews Javere Irie: Art Imitates Life

 Javere Irie: Art Illustrates Life


                            .@TheAbeng 


   
                   
Artist Javere Irie is a cartoonist with a keen eye for the dramatic. His art invigorates and propels the imagination. The artist has a knack for capturing moments in popular culture and making the images reflect his own narrative.
Javere was born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica and now resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Abeng:  So, Javere, how old were you when you first began drawing/painting? What led or drew you to art? Where are you from?

I’m not sure exactly when, but my parents say all my life. I’ve be drawing since I could hold a pencil. 

Which Jamaican or Caribbean or Black artists have inspired you?

Basquiat in terms of raw expressive-ness and Bob Marley for his ability to use his art to unite people, elevate Jamaica and fight injustice world-wide.

Which is your favorite medium or style? 

Illustration! Nothing beats a pencil, and recently illustration markers have been my latest obsession. 
Where do you draw I inspiration?

I would say exploring cultures. The brightness and colors of Jamaica in general definitely inspires me. I’m also intrigued by pop culture and the influence Africa and Jamaica has on it, (from fashion to music), as well as exploring how we view Black culture. 

Have you done any exhibits? 

Yes, I’ve participated in 7 group exhibitions, 5 in New York, 1 in Washington, DC, and 1 in Connecticut.

Have you met any interesting people or visited any intriguing places through your art?

Not personally, but while in college I won an art contest to have my work exhibited in Gov. Cuomo’s Washington DC Office. 

What would you say has been your strongest muse or meditation?

Music (reggae, hip hop and r&b), and animated series like The Proud Family, Teen Titans and Avatar: The Last Airbender always inspire me.

Is your family artistic? Where do you derive your talent?

Yes, my mother is an overall creative being, and her side is very creative as well. Ex. I have an aunt who is a celeb makeup artist in NYC, and an uncle who danced/ choreographs for the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica and is a university professor of dance in the US and JA, 2 cousins who have designer cake businesses, and many more who are creative, but recreationally. 

Where do you want your art to go? What are your aspirations?

In the long term I’d like to move into animation. I want to create projects that challenge and re-conceptualize the black narrative. I want people to see my work and see beyond the stereotypes they have of Black people. We are too multifaceted to be seen through the limited lens that stereotypes provide. Just like any other group of people we are more than that. I think expanding the narrative allows other people to relate and see our humanity. I think a lot of social issues feed on how easily we dehumanize those who are different from us. If we start to break that down, maybe we can relate a little more over our similarities, and not feel threatened by our differences. 

Finish this sentence:
My love is .....

My love is learning. I consume through my art, and share what I learn visually. 
Thanks, Kaya! You provided some very thoughtful questions. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Benny at The Abeng Africa Visits Youth at the Almighty God Compassion Care Home for Street Children


Benny @TheAbeng Visits Almighty God Compassion Care Home in Lagos

Written by Benny Dalle 
Edited by Kaya Omodele

My name is Benny Dalle and last Saturday, September the 30th, I dragged myself through the roasting sun and weekend bustle up to The Almighty God Compassion Care Home to meet with Pastor Sam and some of the boys. I was bubbling with excitement; this was going to be only the second time I'd interviewed anyone.  By the time I got to the Home, I was dripping with perspiration but still charged up with anticipation. While older, teenage boys aren't as cuddly as younger ones, older
children can relate their stories much more vividly.
I am very friendly and fun-loving, so I thought interviewing the boys would be a cool breeze- an easy, simple thing. Boy, was I wrong.

Children Living In The Street
The children's stories affected me as if they were my own.
Ayo is seventeen and, let me tell you, he is Hollywood-handsome. He is one of the boys who has left a lasting impression on me. You cannot hear his plight and remain composed. Just try! You'll see. It's impossible.

When he was three years old Ayo's mom died. He and his older brother (by eight years) found themselves having to leave where they lived and head out onto the street. From the time of his birth, Ayo didn't really know his own
father, and so his brother became that figure. They'd rummage around throughout Lagos in pursuit of food.
Eventually Ayo's older brother got a job as a bus conductor. Then one day the older brother went to work and didn't come back. Now barely ten-years old, Ayo had to fend for himself.
He began running with a pack of young boys out by Kuramo Beach. Some would hustle up food and give him; sometimes he'd gamble to eat. Once some men tried to kidnap him but he darted and ran away.
All together Ayo spent between six and seven years on the street before the Home found him out in Kuramo Beach. Since then, he's been in school and living with some structure. Ayo loves table tennis and wants to be a champion.

Another boy i interviewed was Damilare has lived in the home for six years. His parents, he states, are still alive but were too poor to send him to school. When I asked him about the circumstances that brought him to Almighty God Compassion Care Home, it was a little strange how he stuttered and stammered. He claimed he himself didn't understand those circumstances and I couldn't help wondering if whatever it was that delivered him to the Home was too painful for him to talk about or admit. It was very disturbing, disheartening and touching to see such a strapping boy so helpless. 
But Damilare perked up when talking about what the Home meant to him and how it has changed his life. He states that the Home is like a training ground that would prepare him for his future and get him in line spiritually, mentally and physically. 
Damilare wants to be the minister of power.

Kasim Michael was another boy I interviewed. Like Damilare, his parents were also alive but could not afford to send him to school. Kasim is extremely composed and articulate.
Kasim came to the Home in 2013 and is in school. He wants to study business admin- istration. I can see him owning a business.


The Almighty God Compassion Care Home has existed for nine years and Pastor Sam says it is a "rehabilitation" facility for street boys who either have no where else to go or whose parents are too poor to pay for their education. Most of the boys aren't orphans; still, most have been placed in schools where they can learn both academics AND a trade-all paid for through the Home.
"Before we found them they were maladjusted..." Pastor Sam said.
He makes the case that education is the best tool to equip the boys for a successful transition into adulthood and into society.
"Even if we save one percent of a million...if we help the person...that person can help others and then society begins to change."

Overall, my day was a great learning experience. I learned about the Almighty God Compassion Care Home; I learned about individual boys, their resilience and dedication to better themselves; and when my editor Kaya Omodele called on WhatsApp to interact with the boys, I learned that he has a soft spot for the homeless and street kids (I'll have to wring that out of him)
Even though some of their stories brought tears to my eyes, that was a good day.
~ Benny at The Abeng

https://youtu.be/Mn_Zlx5U9WQ

Watch "Benny @ The Abeng Africa: Children at Almighty God Compassion Care Home" on YouTube
https://youtu.be/Po8QA8Kx9-w




You can email Pastor Sam, Mama and The Almighty God Compassion Care Home at alooluwakorede@gmail.com


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chicken Little: Haunted Blood (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:

Chicken Little and The Carrion Crow (the Introduction)

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Abeng Interviews Garvey's Ghost Author Geoffrey Philp



Garvey’s Ghost, written by Jamaican author Geoffrey Philp, was launched on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, accompanying the birthday celebration of Jamaica's first national hero, the Right and Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey.



Garvey’s Ghost follows the ordeal of a single Jamaican woman, Kathryn Bailey, living in Miami, Florida, whose teenaged daughter suddenly disappears. Kathryn’s search leads her to her daughter’s Black History professor who is not only a Jamaican, but also a devoted Garveyite. Although having little in common, the two join forces to find her daughter before it is too late. The teachings of Marcus Garvey serve as the dismantling of barriers between the two, and a bridge leading to new understandings and unexpected love.

So, Geoffrey, Marcus Garvey as a literary muse is such an intriguing and revolutionary concept. What did you hope to achieve by intertwining Garvey's principles in your story theme and plot?

I grew up listening to the lyrics of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Culture, Steel Pulse, Fred Locks, and Burning Spear, who used the life and work of Marcus Garvey as an inspiration for their
songs. I would also like to think that I am following in the tradition of writers such as Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison, whose poems, novels, and short stories were influenced by Garvey's message.

What do you think it is about Garvey that continues to captivate us 130 years after his birth?

Garvey's work continues to captivate us because of his message of redemption. Even a cursory reading of The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey will reveal the genius of
Garvey and his message of hope.

How was the writing process different for this book?

Revisions and revisions and revisions. It took me twenty years and one million rewrites before Garvey's Ghost was finally published. I've never had to go through such a long wait for any of my books to be published.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of writing and publishing Garvey's Ghost?

During the launch in Jamaica, it was good to see the reactions of friends that I've known since primary school, and new readers of my work. Marcus Garvey opened those doors for me and
I give thanks.

What has been the general response to your book?
The response has been tremendous--better than I had expected because I thought that only Garveyites I would be interested in the novel.
I was wrong.
Because the plot revolves around
a mother’s search for her missing daughter and is told primarily form her point of view, I think I have gained a few more female readers of my work. The audience at the launch confirmed that for me.

Any parting words?
I have been getting hints from the publisher that they are trying to get Garvey’s Ghost into the schools in Jamaica. I hope they will be successful because Garvey's message of hope and
his strategies for our “emancipation from mental slavery,” are needed now more than ever.

 Born in Jamaica, Geoffrey Philp is the author of the novel, Garvey’s Ghost and the children’s book, Marcus and the Amazons. His work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. A graduate of the University of Miami, Geoffrey teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade College.



Garvey’s Ghost is the first book under Carlong’s newest imprint, Expressions, that responds to the need for quality reading material written by Caribbean authors for teens and young adults.
Additionally, this year is the 130th anniversary of the birth of Marcus Garvey and, to mark this milestone, Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey and the Jamaica Music Museum (JaMM), departments of the Institute of Jamaica, collaborated to host a series of events under the theme, “Garvey as Literary Muse”.

The Expressions series was conceptualized with the aim of capturing the interest and imagination of youths (ages 14-20 years) across the
Caribbean. It is Carlong’s response to the need for more wholesome reading material that is written by Caribbean authors and focuses on Caribbean life, morals, values and attitudes, as well as other themes.
Carlong Publishers publishes, markets and distributes textbooks that support Caribbean curricula at the early childhood, primary, secondary and post-secondary levels.


BUY #GarveysGhost, NEW suspense novel by Jamaican author Geoffrey Philp
📍 Sangster's Book Store (Jamaica)
📍 Kingston Bookshop (Jamaica)
📍 Online - http://ow.ly/uGoB30f9OKS

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Culture and Tradition are Key to Agricultural Development

Culture and Tradition are Key to Agricultural Development

Copyright 2017 Kentake Malopenza


"You measure a people's potential for liberation based on how different their culture is from their oppressors." 
~Amilcar Cabral



The root cause of trauma and sickness comes from ones commitment to defending a culture that is not their OWN. Living a foreign and alien culture while you despise and condemn your own is simply MENTACIDE (mental insanity). We have been running away from the truth for so long that many of us now think the lies we have been telling ourselves are actually true. But any philosophy that teaches a nation of people to reject their own ancestors and heritage in favor of those who oppress them is a mindset that will surely destroy them and their future generations. We can look at our global Afurakan nations today, all over the world, from the Continent to the Caribbean as well as South and Central America, and we will see that we share a similar lifestyle, culture and value system. We are also facing the same challenges, conflicts and issues regardless of where we may be in the world, or what language we speak in the country of our residence. This tells us that melanated people are truly one divine family and it is our ignorance of that fact that leaves us as easy targets for others to be able to manipulate and control, both us and our resources.


The greatest wealth we have is our indigenous land and it is interesting as well that the term agriculture, which speaks directly to the cultivation and care for ones' land, has the term culture within it. Agriculture is properly defined as:
The practice of tending and caring for the land is slowly becoming an abandoned way of life because we are on the road to fully embracing westernization and capitalism; we are chasing an unrealistic dream that we ourselves know is not real. Our ancestors passed down many ancient spiritual and social values and principles to us that provide rules and regulations of how we must tend and care for our land, but if we don't have any awareness of what those values are then how can we enforce them? 

Many of these codes of morality and social values of communal responsibility are considered law and order within the traditions of our ancestors. But many of us look down upon our indigenous traditions with disgust and shame, as if those ways of life are useless and un-necessary to us now because we feel we have 'arrived' and we have 'moved up' the ladder of success in the mainstream european world. 

Sounding The Abeng
Many of us accept this and end up unknowingly studying information that has been written by Europeans on our traditions, not even realizing that the information is not authentic. In fact, it is these same people who run to the four corners of the Earth to learn at the feet of our elders while we reject learning from one another because we have ego issues.

Then these same yurugu come back to the west and write books on our culture and traditions with the help and assistance of the elders they learned from and we buy those books not knowing that we are financing our own oppression.

As much as we condemn Europeans for their systematic cultural appropriation, we have to look at our own reflection in the mirror and come to terms with the ways in which we assist and encourage our own oppression, by standing idly as others steal our culture and laugh in our face as they are doing it. All the while we are downgrading ourselves calling our heritage and tradition "archaic", "primitive", "evil", "wicked", "outdated" and "backwards". 


Meanwhile they are running all over the Continent, especially Nigeria and Benin as well as the Caribbean and South America learning and studying everything that we were taught to reject and they are paying millions of dollars for it too.


But yet many of YOU will say that our traditions are archaic and have no value in a modern world. Please also remember that our collective honorable ancestors utilized the power within our "outdated" and "backwards" traditions in order to free us from the bondage of slavery and colonization. Please also don't forget that next time you decide to condemn your ancestors for fighting for you to be free from mental and physical bondage. We must all keep in mind: that which we don't claim as our OWN can easily be stolen from us and given a new name and identity. Then, our children will have been robbed of their heritage, which is happening right now in many parts of the world.


Will we only value our traditions when they are open and welcoming to all other races?  Or after they have been stolen and recreated to suit another image and identity?? And if so what does that say about what we really think of ourselves? There is no greater enemy to us than the sickness of self hatred. We must always remember that. Ase ooo.


"the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products."

Prosperity and wealth have always been tied to land ownership, agriculture and the passing down of ancestral tradition and family heritage for generations. This is the true meaning of success:  people must know how to maintain economic and state power. No one with common sense would willingly abandon the traditions of their own ancestors, knowing that these are tied to their future success and prosperity. So why do Afurakan people do that? Do we lack common sense?

We must remember that the aspects of our cultural heritage that many of us reject and disdain are those parts of our reality that europeans love to study, research, write books and thesis papers on; then, they turn around and claim that they are experts in our culture and sell our own knowledge back to us.
But interestingly enough, the european doesn't think so at all. They desperately want to claim and take full ownership of the parts of our culture, tradition and heritage that they know we are ashamed of because they taught us to reject it and now we follow their orders centuries later with no need for it to be reinforced.


Sista Kentake Malopenza is an Afurakan centered 
advocate, mother, writer and entrepreneur who enjoys doing in depth study and research on ancient Afurakan cosmology, precolonial Caribbean culture, Maroon history. Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions and ancestral philosophies from around the global melanated world. She has travelled extensively from West Afuraka to the Caribbean, in order to reconnect with her heritage and extended family. She is also the founder and director of Akoma Ntoaso Tours which is a grassroots tours incentive that educates people about the Jamaica's indigenous culture and ancestral heritage.
You can contact Akoma Tours at www.akomatours.yolasite.com

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

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 editor.theabengblog@gmail.com

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 editor.theabengblog@gmail.com 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

Read Part One of This Bah-Pna profile here

"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

If you didn't read the first the first part of this interview catch the Bah-Pna Feature Profile here 



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 subtle...like 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!


Read the second part to this interview





    

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