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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
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