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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 Outdated water-works systems contribute to mainline leakage and water shortage.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.


The African Diaspora: "Pure" Drinking Water in Nigeria

Scenes from Nigeria-  Pure Water


In Nigeria we call it “pure water”.
Benny @TheAbeng
It's water for the poor even though it’s not all the poor that can afford it. The price is 10 naira.
We also have tap water they sell in a bucket; one bucket is 10 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 helped 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 everywhere; and, that is a sign that its helping lives.

~ Benny Dalle ; 

Benny @ The Abeng Africa

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Abeng Interviews Javere Irie: Art Imitates Life

 Javere Irie: Art Illustrates Life


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

Watch "Benny @ The Abeng Africa: Children at Almighty God Compassion Care Home" on YouTube

You can email Pastor Sam, Mama and The Almighty God Compassion Care Home at

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