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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Granny and We Tribe

One thing I love 'bout my family is that we close-knit. For instance, I have dozens of cousins and we don't distinguish with labels like first-, second-, or third-; every single one ah dem is just plain ole cousin. That's how I like it. A next thing: there's nothing half 'bout brothers and sisters, neither.
And is nuff ah we, plenty ah we. All over in England, Canada, the U.S.- in more than ten states; all over the West Indies-one ah we even lived in Costa Rica, a few in Africa.
My Uncle Stuartie used to call the family, "the Tribe." See, in a tribe, the whole village raises a child and throughout my life my Granny and aunts helped grow me, even some of my teenage years. When I was born and my mother continued her schooling, my Granny, Jah Bless her, tek mih in an' mind me. I mean, I went to live with her and she took care of me. So, for my few toddler years, 'til I was 'bout four, I was raised by the tribe, the village. And Granny, is the Matriarch.
In November Granny will be Ninety. In her time, she has read current news articles declaring: How To Survive The Great Depression, A Hundred Years Since Emancipation, Germans Blitz London, Fidel and La Revolucion, The Collapsing of British Colonialism, National Independence, Federation Folds, and CARICOM Lives. She's outlived dozens of Prime Ministers and Presidents. She limps with a walker now, but I see photos that could've made magazine covers- one with my late Grandfather back in the days and, truss mi, Barack and Michelle couldn't stand next to dem.
She chastises me:
"Why you talking so? Speak English, proper English."
But Granny, the damn English don't even speak proper English.
Everyday I remind myself that its she one who labored over the stove for me, regardless if I was behaving:
"hard ears"; "boderation"; "schupid; like yuh doan have no sense, or wah?"; "mannish"; or like I don't "have no manners."
Wait, side note. My Great-auntie just fight mi off a piece a buns and ask, "Is you one have mouth?"

Disassembled hand-powered grinderSo, the Elders in my tribe are pushing up in years and now its time I mind them. I been visiting with them here in ATL, and my recent days I been cleaning ceiling fans, helping turn mattresses, boiling ginger, opening guava jelly bottle/jar, grinding up pepper with a grinder (not a blender, an ancient grinder). Sometimes, right when I'm concentrating on writing, one of them screeches out my name, pushing my annoyance button, 'til my vexness turn up. Through clenched teeth I reply boyishly, "Yes, Granny." (or Auntie) Truss mih, is all love because when its all said and done, they are my biggest supporters, they have loved me without conditions nor obligations, and for the longest time.
And I am thankful. I am grateful I have people who cherish and share a bond from all over the globe. This is my Tribe. And I love it to Life.

Bless up Uncle Stuartie.
Never gone! Never Forgotten

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When Things Fall Apart

 When Things Fall Apart
Each day I see the effects of the absence of men/fathers/husbands from families in our communities. It is apparent in my neighborhood with the little boys who scurry the street at close to midnight. It is evident when my own blood sister's eyes squint tight with frustration 'cause her little man got into trouble at school. Another sistren's young daughter talks about her Dad constantly, but hasn't seen him in 'bout a year. Seems like everywhere I turn, absentee fathers leave their marks-things fall apart.
When we gone, things fall apart in some way or another. The family fabric is altered when we're not there and some Sisters struggle on their own, many resorting to hustling or food stamps to supplement meager single incomes. They struggle alone in five-season old dresses and patch up-patch up jeans. Drag our seed around with them in mini vans, subway cars, or putt-puttering twelve-year -old Mirages, dropping the children off at day cares (they can barely afford) or family members. Then, they rush off to cash registers or  mop closets or clerk desks or,  community colleges if they're lucky.
From Lagos to Linden, London to LA, when fathers disappear children become some department's statistics. Often, girls grow into fractured women and boys into inmates. I KNOW. I'm sure you know, too, what happens to our families when things fall apart.
Bredren, Love our sistahs/Big up di Sistren! Mentor a child!
Or get the hell out the way.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reasoning: UK Riots

 "Whites have become blacks..." ~David Starkey

Workman Reasonings: Uk Riots
copyright 2011 K.Omodele  

With lungs heaving, a dozen and a half  bredren and work-associates drag themselves off a football pitch, peeling away sweat-plastered tee shirts and wringing them dry. They settle around, palavering in the short grass beside the field. Every man catch a seat, relaxing; but Sunday morning already done and now Monday morning looming like a hurricane right over the horizon.
A bamboo-stalk youth yanks his football boots' lace, removes boots and shin guards. Plopping down under a tree, he braces his spine 'gainst the trunk and opens a window in his smart phone. Lights up a Newport , bellows out smoke through his cannon-gun nostrils and says:
"Yow, Bajan.Your London ah bun dung, to blood-bath."
"Look how long now they rioting, bout two or three days now. Yuh late, Rudeboy!" Bajie replies, swiping a along his military cut shape-up and sops up his mustache with a handkerchief . Then, he folds it neatly, drapes it over a shoulder.
Dreadie pushes his size-twelves into flip flops. Retrieves a towel and Daily News from his back-pack before shoving in his Adidas. He parts rope-sized, Congo locks and dabs down by the scalp with the towel. Then, he turbans them, finds a stick ah Ishence*, lights it and parts open the newspaper pages.
"BaBY-LON, your Kingdom is BURN-IN'," he wails with no twitch hinting his face and not a trace of regret lacing his voice. Then, he continues like a verdict, "And this time di revolution not only televised, it Internet computerized, tuh rass."

Spence reclines, his tradesman-toned arms extend behind him, propping him up like stands. "Oonu** nuh hear bout wha Sparkey seh?"
"Who?" half a dozen of them croak out in unison like a set ah ole bull frog.
"Di MP." Spence words grumble from age, not lack of confidence. He strokes a raisin-skin hand through his cotton-colored, pickie-pickie beard. His temples are glazed with perspiration.
"Oh.Yuh mean David Starkey, dat racist so and so." Trevor answers.
"Yeah. Starski."
Dreadie eyes lock in on a page. "Hear, nuh. Pon some Tel-lie-vision program over deh, Starkey seh-"  each word is shoveled like he's digging a grave. "'The. whites. have. become. black. A particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion and black and white boys and girls operate in this language together. This language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England and that is why so many of us have this sense of literally, a foreign country.'"
Dreadie glowers around at the congregation. Then, waving the paper with one arm like a flag, he rumbles:
"This man mek a connection between Black culture and gangsterism. But when you really hear di shout, yuh will find out seh youth gangs and groups been in Europe since Medieval times. You know how long gangs deh in England robbing, raping and extorting? You had juveniles wha' use to wear colored ribbons like they flag and bare violence them ole criminal deh use to commit. Even the word gang come from a Ole English word 'gan' - meaning 'to go.'"  

Bajan chuckles then straighten his face. "Like you ent hear de man say is wunna** come over there wid the gangster mentality and turn White kids Black with patwa and-"
"Baj. Banna*** stop chat yuh colonialist scuntery." Trevor interjects. "You really think is since Caribbean people start move up in England that the gangsterism thing start over deh? You know how long football hooligans riling up that country?"
"And other country, tuh." Spence adds. "GT Trevor, dem will even lef from over England and tek that clear gone over to Spain during UEFA."
Rudeboy fires, slamming his football boots on the ground. "Yuh see how dem ah fight 'gainst Jamaican and patois, doh? 'Bout false language?"
Spence wags a gun finger in the air. "English false. Is false German and French and it join up wid Scandanavian and Roman."
Dreadie notes. "Even di name London is Roman." Stands up, rolls his shoulders back into a stretch and goes on reasoning. "Is the same old 'blame the immigrant' cry. This man Starkey seh how he draw the
Rivers of Blood Speech from a man name Enoch Powell . You know who that be? You know wha' dat? Powell was a politician back in the sixties over deh who mek this big speech 'gainst Black people, immigrants from the Caribbean, crying how we soon tek over England. That speech did stir up all kinda anti-immigrant hostilities that nuff British people had inside them anyway. So now, Starkey draw from that speech and apply it to this rioting now."
Trevor chips inna center. "But Dread, look how long immigrant gangs been over deh, long before we. I read somewhere that back in the 1800's you had Irish and Italian immigrants in Liverpool who use to form dey own immigrant gang.You know how we end up over deh in England? Listen man, after World War II mash up Britain, they did need unskilled labour workers fuh rebuild the country. So, is the Common Wealth they turn to and is so nuff a we end up deh. But of course wheresoever you have immigrant communities with immigrants survivin' on low wages, you gon' find poverty an' low-income housing and then people gon' form gangs and turn to crime. You find that back in the days with the Irish and Italians, you find it with the West Indians that went to build up London, you find it fight here in de U.S., right now-pure an' simple."
Bajie claps his hands. "Yes, Comrade. Mr. Socialist. You was a Burnhamite?"
No one even looks at Bajan.

Spence clears his throat.
"And see now, Sparkey saying how this is a Black culture thing. As if gangsterism is Black culture," Spence notes. "When White people do dem hooliganism and organised crime, why they don't call that White gangster culture?"
Dreadie is up pacing now. "Bredren, that is what I woulda really love to know. Since when gang or criminal activity become Black culture? Like if criminal culture is representative of Black people. You have many people, Black and White and Red, who celebrate criminal cultures." Spliff in hand, he unsheathes his locks from the towel and flashes them from side to side. They've all seen him do this hundreds of times. Yet, now each of them notices the strength in the individual strands as if seeing Dreadie's locks for the first time. He bellows:
"You know is a youth get shot and kill by the police mek the whole thing blow up in di first place? They seh he had a gun, but before this is all said an' done, I bet we hear he never had one. Just like Smiley Culture. Yuh notice that when the people dem over deh did protest peacefully like for Smiley, the media coverage wasn't so wagga-wagga?****Eh? No body never pay dem no form ah great attention. Now they looting, the world hearing them now. SCHEEUUPPSS. Then why they shouldn't get on bad? You know how many people police kill over deh an' nothing come outta it. Is like,  we over here shoulda rise up bout Michael Stewart back in the day, Diallo, Abner Louima, Sean Bell and countless others. Mek mi waan holla. Like is only then people listen."
The wind shudders through Prospect Park, bristling the leaves steadily.

*Ishence- ganja, in this case
**oonu, wunna - you all
***banna- man, chap, bredren, notes a male
****wagga-wagga -a whole heap, plenty, in abundance

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Top Seventeen Sayings and Quotes by Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Marcus Garvey was born on August the seventeenth, and so this is a blessed day in my Journey. On this day a man was born in 1887 who would affect the way I perceive my SELF in relation to my community and my place in the world in general. Black Marcus screamed Self-identity, Self-worth, Self-reliance, Self-improvement, not just in the context of the singular person, but in the greater context of Black Community. In honor of the most Right and Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey's earthstrong/earthlight/earthday (birthday), I have composed this list of seventeen immensely memorable phrases, sayings and quotes from the Prophet that have influenced I, Kaya. SALUTE, Black Marcus!

17. Having had the wrong kind of education, the Negro has become his own greatest enemy.

16. The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.

15. Chance has never yet satisfied the hope of a suffering people.

14. We must canonize our own saints, create our own martyrs, and elevate to positions of fame and honor black men and women who have made their distinct contributions to our racial history. Sojourner Truth is worthy of the place of sainthood alongside of Joan of Arc; Crispus Attucks and George William Gordon are entitled to the halo of martyrdom with no less glory than that of the martyrs of any other race. Toussaint L'Ouverture's brilliancy as a soldier and statesman outshone that of a Cromwell, Napoleon and Washington; hence, he is entitled to the highest place as a hero among men. Africa has produced countless numbers of men and women, in war and in peace, whose lustre and bravery outshine that of any other people. Then why not see good and perfection in ourselves?

13. If you haven't confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.

12. I do not speak carelessly or recklessly but with a definite object of helping the people, especially those of my race, to know, to understand, and to realize themselves.

11. Lift up yourselves, men, take yourselves out of the mire and hitch your hopes to the very stars themselves. Let no man pull you down, let no man destroy your ambition, because man is but your companion, your equal; man is your brother; he is not your Lord, he is not your sovereign master.

10. The Mystic Touch Many years ago we fell asleep by the sedative of the superman, but the mystic magic of nature wand says awake and rise again. Too long has thou slumbered, too long has time passed you by, your work on earth is delinquent and you cannot reign on high. If it's true that you've awaken, good for you,

9. We must give up the silly idea of folding our hands and waiting on God to do everything for us.If God had intended for that, then he would not have given us a mind. Whatever you want in life, you must make up your mind to do it for yourself
8. Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men.
7. We Are Arbiters of Our Own Destiny. God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own creative genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law.
6. Our UNION MUST KNOW NO CLIME, BOUNDARY, or NATIONALITY… PRACTICE ONE FAITH, that of Confidence in themselves, with One God! One Aim! One Destiny! Let no religious scruples, no political machination divide us.
5. If the white man has the idea of a white God, let him worship his God as he desires. If the yellow man's God is of his race let him worship his God as he sees fit. We, as Negroes, have found a new ideal. Whilst our God has no color, yet it is human to see everything through one's own spectacles, and since the white people have seen their God through white spectacles, we have only now started out (late though it be) to see our God through our own spectacles.The God of Isaac and the God of Jacob let Him exist for the race that believes in the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. We Negroes believe in the God of Ethiopia…

4. I know no national boundary where the Negro is concerned. The whole world is my province until Africa is free.
3. Look to Africa for the crowning of a Black king; for the day of deliverance is near.
2. A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
1. A reading man and woman is a ready man and woman, but a writing man and woman is exact.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Seeking Makeda III: (Journey in Touch)

All rights reserved for The Abeng and My Conscious Pen/
YardCore International, Inc. Publishing

Seeking Makeda III: (Journey into Touch)
copyright 2011 K.Omodele

Queen of Sheba traveling to Solomon. A fresco ...There never was a time when Queen Makeda was naught.

Anticipating caresses...
by soul-stimulating fingertips
gentle nudges from Aksumite hips
lines traced on skin; breath short, light nips
and feather-brush strokes by silken lips.

Remembering the Empress'...
whispers call, goose bumps 'pon skin,
stirring response, the conga rid-dim
heart-warmed breath like whiffs of medzItational* bliss
soaks the eardrum, arousing soul-sensational lifts


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Monday, August 1, 2011

Saluting Emancipation Day

Bless up this Emancipation Day/August Monday!
Someone special just mentioned to me that
We need some new teachers, or to evolve into the elders we are lacking/silencing. The statement is drenched in relevance- we are doing a terrible job in educating generations about our own culturally poignant history. We celebrate all manner of so-called holidays (many that are nonsensical and perpetuate lies), branding ourselves with other cultures' values and mores, while displaying little regard for our own culture and what we have overcome as a people. Jah Know!
It is I and I's (our collective) responsibility to tell ourstory, since we know history is his story and our half has hardly been told. For instance, this Tarzan-like partiality is plain when in history much praise is lauded towards the contributions of various british anti-slavery societies and organisations while relatively little importance given to the thousands of freedom fighters/slave revolts in the Caribbean region. Is full time now our story be told by us on a wider scale.

babylon release the chains...
On August 1, 1834, The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 not-so effectively abolished slavery in the british vampire (ok, since yuh/oonu/wunna/awyuh tek offence, british Empire then). Each slave younger than six years old was "officially" declared free. But practically, this emancipation was quasi-freedom and slaves weren't actually freed until August 1, 1838.

but dem a use dem brains...
I say "not-so effectively" because if you overstand how this emancipation played out, you'd know that it wasn't like britain just let go of cheap labor without covering its arse. The jolly-good boys dem brought in a system of apprenticeship in which slaves older than six years actually worked  for four to six* more years to ensure planters would have labor and that plantation economies wouldn't belly up after emancipation. This "apprenticeship" was designed to keep slaves working eighteen hours a day on plantations in return for food, clothing and shelter while labeling them as "free".
And a next thing, millions of pounds** were given to slaveholders as compensation for losing their "property", while no money was given to slaves themselves. This systematically ensured that most ex-slaves would remain on a lower economic tier, dependent on their ex-masters for wages and livelihood.
East Indians and Chinese soon began being imported to the Caribbean as indentured servants to fill the void left after Blacks left the plantations. In many cases, these Asians would be housed in old slave quarters. 

more ourstory
 "I would rather die in yonder gallows, than live for a minute more in slavery."~Sam 'Daddy' Sharpe
 Mek ah tell yuh, despite and in spite of the tendency of history to downplay the revolting slaves, we need to educate the masses that our freedom wasn't simply handed to a grovelling, begging people. I and I must uphold the memory of our martyrs of the African Holocaust. Throughout the region, thousands of slaves and maroons rebelled, revolted, fought and died for freedom leading up to Emancipation- Jamaica by far having the most documented rebellions. There were literally hundreds of rebellions in the West Indies. Some that have captured my imagination: The Haitian Revolution, Jamaican Maroon Wars, 1763 Revolt in Berbice (Guyana), Dominican Maroon Wars, Suriname's Maroon Wars, Tacky's Rebellion, 1733 Slave Insurrection (St. John, V.I.), Black Carib Revolts, to name a few.
In the british West Indies, though, there are three significant, large-scale rebellions that affected Emancipation that must be noted: Bussa's Rebellion (in 1816, Barbados), The Demarara Rebellion ( of 1823, Guyana), and Sam Sharpe's Christmas Uprising*** (1831, Jamaica). For sheer size and effectiveness in communicating to britain that slavery must go at any cost, they are most influential. 10,000 slaves revolted in the Demarara Rebellion and up to 20,000 in the Christmas Uprising, burning down cane fields and property, causing the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pounds in today's british currency. These three were pivotal in speeding up britain's inevitable decision.

I am appealing to writers and authors, songwriters and storytellers and wordsmiths: it is our duty to tell our story and educate the youth from our own perspectives. We cannot expect history to reflect ourstory and view point. If upcoming generations don't learn and appreci-love our collective stories and culture, we have only ourselves to blame. Especially in this age of information.

* predials, which were "field slaves", were to be apprenticed until 1940; nonpredials no later than Aug. 1, 1938 
** the total compensation paid out was £20 million which was 40% of the british government's total annual expenditure
***AKA the Baptist War, Sam Sharpe's Rebellion, and The Great Jamaican Slave Revolt

These countries observe August 1 Emancipation Day

  • Saint Lucia
  • Barbados: Emancipation Day in Barbados is part of the annual "Season of Emancipation" which runs from April 14 to August 23. The Season, includes the anniversary of the Slave Rebellion led by the Right Excellent Bussa, National hero, in 1816 , National Heroes Day on April 28, the Crop Over Festival,the Day of National Significance on July 26(in commemoration of the social unrest of 1937)and International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on August 23. Emancipation Day celebrations usually feature a Walk from Independence Square in Bridgetown to the Heritage Village at the Crop Over Bridgetown Market on the Spring Garden Highway. At the Heritage Village, apart from a concert, there is also a wreath-laying ceremony as a tribute to the ancestors. Traditionally, the Prime Minister, the Minister responsible for Culture and representatives of the Commission for Pan African Affairs are among those laying wreaths.
  • Bermuda: Celebration usually occurs on August 2, despite August 1 being the national holiday. On the island the holiday is better known as the first day of "Cupmatch", an annual two-day cricket competition between the St. George's and Somerset cricket clubs.
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

These countries observe Emancipation Day the first Monday as August Monday

  • Anguilla: In addition to commemorating emancipation, it is the first day of "August Week", the Anguillian Carnival celebrations. J'ouvert is celebrated on this morning, as Carnival commences.
  • The Bahamas: Celebrations are mainly concentrated in Fox Hill Village, Nassau, a former slave village whose inhabitants, according to folklore, heard about their freedom a week after everyone else on the island. There is a also a celebration beginning on August 1 and lasting several days held in the charming settlement of Hatchet Bay on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera known as the Bay Fest.
  • British Virgin Islands: The first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of August are celebrated as "August Festival".
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: The first Monday and Tuesday are celebrated as "Emancipation Day" and also Carnival in Nevis.

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