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Nubiart Diary - End of Year Review

By Kubara Zamani | Sun 18 December 2011

‘A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON THE AFRIKAN WORLD’


END OF YEAR ROUND-UP
What a year!!! Who could have foreseen the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ with the removal of Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen and the assassination of Col Muammar Gaddafi in Libya? Meanwhile Ivory Coast’s former President Laurent Gbagbo will, as we had predicted at the start of the year, be meeting up with Liberia’s Charles Taylor at the ICC in the Hague having been extradited there for refusing to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara following a disputed election and armed confrontation. On a positive note we saw South Sudan gain its independence but the ICC is still tracking the sly old fox, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, for whom they also have a place reserved up in The Hague. For 2012 it is worth watching if the so-called ‘international community’ try to slap ICC-type charges on the Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki, the country has just had another round of UN Security Council sanctions renewed and upgraded for their alleged support of Al-Shabab in Somalia.

Across the Horn of Afrika and the western Sahel there have been increasingly more devastating droughts. Access to sources of water will become more crucial as portrayed in films we reviewed such as Marion Hansel’s ‘Sounds of Sand’ [Bluebell Films] and Licinio Azevedo’s ‘The Water Wars’ [Notes on Cinema]. War, rape, forced migration, unemployment and lack of a credible government have been the continuing hallmarks of both Somalia and the D R Congo.

Scholar-activist Manning Marable passed away just as his controversial book on Malcolm X hit the stands. Other notables who passed on were the environmental campaigner and founder of the Green Belt Movement Wangari Maathai, anti-apartheid stalwart Albertina Sisulu and Biafran leader Gen Ojukwu. We had another case of war porn with the live assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan broadcast around the world.

In Britain we witnessed the police killings of Mark Duggan and Smiley Culture and the subsequent lies they and their anti-Afrikan colleagues at the IPCC pimped in the media. Jamaica’s JLP PM Bruce Golding resigned after his administration was exposed as supporting the garrison community mindset by trying to avoid the extradition of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke to America on drugs and racketeering charges for which Coke was eventually convicted in August.

On the economic front four years into the current financial crisis the self-deluded, self-appointed ‘Masters of the Universe’ continue to get a spanking like a bunch of first year public schoolboy fags. The only problem is that they insist on dragging the sensible majority of the world’s population down to their corrupt, sleazy level.

To round off below are some of the interesting books we have read but never managed to fit in a review in Nubiart Diary during the year.

~ ‘BRAZIL: MIXTURE OR MASSACRE. ESSAYS IN THE GENOCIDE OF A BLACK PEOPLE’ – Abdias do Nascimento [The Majority Press. ISBN: 0-912469-26-9]

“Until very recently, the norm was to nullify black identity by placing Afro-Brazilians indiscriminately in the category of “Brazilian people” or “the working class,” in order to avoid Black people’s specific problems emerging as a serious social question. The attempt was to silence millions of Brazilians of African origin with the illusion that, by solving the dichotomy between rich and poor or between worker and employer, all racial problems would be automatically resolved. This position of the white Eurocentric ruling elite was taken to the extreme of elaborating an ideology called “racial democracy” whose goal was to proclaim the virtues of Brazilian race relations, presenting them as an example to be followed by the rest of the world.” (pvii)

First published in 1978 and reprinted in 1989 to mark the centenary of Brazil’s abolition of enslavement this collection of essays by the recently deceased artist, theatre director, university lecturer and the first Senator in Brazil to go there with a specifically pan-Afrikan agenda is probably the best book we have read this year. Having lived most of the 20th century and into the 21st do Nascimento was well-placed to assess the stature and position of Afrikans. He set up his own theatre company in 1944 and was involved in many of the debates about Brazil’s alleged ‘racial democracy’ to which the title refers. One of the first major cultural and socio-political organisations he knew of was the Brazilian Black Front formed in 1930.

In ‘Cultural Revolution and the Future of Pan-Africanism’ Do Nascimento tells about his experience as the only Brazilian (and indeed South American) representative at the Sixth PAC held in Kampala in 1974. This revealed a degree of Anglo-French language bias where the struggles and experiences of Afrikans who come from countries colonised by the Spanish, Portuguese and Arabs are marginalised and misunderstood in order to maintain an almost Afrikan-American cultural imperialism within the pan-Afrikan movement. Do Nascimento had been told by CLR James in the run up to the Congress that an entire day would be given over to discuss the situation of Afrikans in Brazil. After Eusi Kwayana and the Guyanese delegation were banned over their political differences with Forbes Burnham’s government CLR James boycotted the Sixth PAC. Do Nascimento went and found himself isolated and he had to protest strongly just to finish his own speech and there was no official Portuguese translator - a vast disappointment considering what he had been originally promised.

During the mid-1970s Do Nascimento taught at the University of Ife in Nigeria around the time of FESPACO. This gave him further crucial insights into the links between Candomble, Umbanda, Ifa and other Afrikan-based spiritual systems. He points out that while many call Candomble syncretic the reality was not so benign as it was actually a manifestation of Afrikan spirituality that was violently repressed by the Brazilian state and could only survive by the outward adoption of European Catholic imagery. Two of the essays come from this time: ‘Genocide: the Social Lynching of Africans and their Descendants in Brazil’ and ‘Religion and Art in Afro-Brazilian Cultural Experience. Pt1 – Antecedents & Pt2 – Reflections on the Contemporary Scene’.

The final essay ‘Afro-Brazilian Ethnicity and International Policy’ was delivered at the First Congress of Black Culture in the Americas held in Cali, Colombia, in Aug 1977. The Congress approved the resolution that all universities in the Americas must teach an Afrikan language.

~ ‘JAMAICAN SONG AND STORY: ANNANCY STORIES, DIGGING SINGS, RING TUNES, AND DANCING TUNES’ - Walter Jekyll. Introductions by Philip Sherlock, Louise Bennett and Rex Nettleford [Dover Press. ISBN: 0-486-43720-5] This book contains a variety of stories and songs which reflect Jamaican culture and its links to the West Afrikan storytelling tradition and European colonisation. Some of the stories and songs can still be heard in today’s reggae music. It was first published in 1905 and the reprint here has introductions from the three giants of Jamaican cultural and artistic expression.

~ ‘ANCIENT LIVES: THE STORY OF THE PHARAOHS TOMBMAKERS’ – John Romer [Phoenix Press. ISBN: 1-84212-044-1] A humanising account of the lives of the workers and their families who built the tombs and monuments for the Pharaohs and other high-ranking officials around the Luxor / Thebes area. There is a good selection of drawings and photos including of the statues of the workers. There was a series of four films made on the ‘Ancient Lives’ content in 1984.

~ ‘THE ROAD TO RAMADAN’ – Haykal Murhammad Rhasanayn and Mohamed Heikal [Ballantine Books. ISBN: 0-345-25351-5-195] This book written by author Rhasanayn and Heikal, the former Egyptian Minister of Information and editor of Al-Ahram, focuses on the six years between the 1967 and 1973 wars between the North Afrikan and Middle Eastern armies supported by the Soviet Union and the imperialist nation-state of Israel armed and financed by the US. It was also the time when after starting a major rearming process Nasser passed away and Anwar Sadat took over in Egypt. A bit part player at this time was the Air Force General Hosni Mubarak who within six years of the publication of this book in 1975 would become President after the assassination of Sadat – a regime that continued until toppled during the ‘Arab Spring’ at the start of this year.

~ ‘REFUGEE BOY’ – Benjamin Zephaniah [Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN: 0-7475-5086-7] Benjamin Zephaniah is someone who’s career we have followed since the release of his ‘Rasta’ album in the early 1980s with the track ‘Dis Policeman Keeps On Kicking Me To Death’. This novel by the ‘recovering dyslexic’ is written in conjunction with the Refugee Council and tells the story of a boy, Alem, who is left in Britain by his father as his parents who come from an ‘Eritrean-Ethiopian’ mixed marriage find themselves abused in both countries after war breaks out in the late 1990s. The book is suitable for anyone 10 and over and is an excellent discussion tool for children or adults who may have experienced the trauma of forced migration, political instability, war, death and separation of close relatives.

~ ‘THE GOD WHO BEGAT A JACKAL’ – Nega Mezlekia [Picador. ISBN: 0-312-28701-1] This novel, set in 18th century Ethiopia, tells of the ramifications when a slave and court entertainer, Gudu, breaks a taboo and falls in love with Aster, the daughter of the feudal lord in Hararghe. It is set against a backdrop of a religious dispute between the established Mawu-Lisa and the more egalitarian Ammas.

~ ‘VILLAGE OF THE NUBAS’ – George Rodger [Phaidon Press. ISBN: 0-7148-3840-3] The Magnum photographer’s account of his journey in the Nuba Mountains of Kordofan in 1949. The Nuba had been forced to retreat further into the mountains by continued slave-raids and other cultural attacks brought about by the creation of the more formal nation-state of Sudan. The book contains the classic widely-reproduced winning wrestler photograph that appeared in National Geographic with the accompanying story of the importance of wrestling to the Nuba.

~ ‘THE LAND OF NAKED PEOPLE: ENCOUNTERS WITH STONE AGE ISLANDERS’ – Madhusree Mukerjee [Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 0-618-19736-2] A look at the situation of the Andaman Islanders who have faced genocide to the point where there are less than 1,000 left. Boa Sr, the last speaker of the Bo language, passed away in Jan 2010 at the age of 85. The tone of some of the writing and historical extracts reflects the racism and contempt which the indigenous Andamanese have faced from incoming Europeans and mainland Indians. Mukerjee travelled there in the 1990s and 2000s as they were increasingly forced to adopt the mainstream Hindu, Bengali and Tamil cultures in order to survive.

~ ‘DANCING IN THE DARK’ – Caryl Phillips [Vintage. ISBN: 978-0099-48887-3] Fact-based novel set in the mainly segregated Afrikan-American entertainment circuit at the turn of the early 20th century and before the era of spoken cinema came to the fore. Bert Williams and his performing partner, George Walker, rise to the top of their game ending up in Harlem. They are still expected to ‘black up’ by promoters, funders and the majority of their fans but they struggle to try and humanise Afrika and Afrikans without overtly being classed as ‘extremists’ or ‘race-men’, through doing researched shows with titles such as ‘Dahomey’.

~ ‘HALALA MADIBA: NELSON MANDELA IN POETRY’ – Various [Aflame Books. ISBN: 0-955-2339-0-9] A solid book of poems spanning four decades dedicated to Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle. While we have our own criticisms about some of Madiba’s political strategies and personal decisions this book reflects the more general adulation attached to Mandela. The range and style is as varied as you would expect with 96 contributions from 25 countries – from haikus to epics, rhyming couplets to dub poetry and rap. Poets include: Benjamin Zephaniah, Wole Soyinka, Michael Smith, Bongani Sitole, Ntozake Shange, Tupac Shakur, Mongane Wally Serote, Kalama ya Salaam, Femi Ojo-Ade, Nancy Morejon, Seamus Milne, John Matshikiza, Zindzi Mandela, Haki R Madhubuti, Lindiwe Mabuza, Mazisi Kunene, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mafika Gwala, Jeremy Cronin, J P Clark, Abena P A Busia, Dennis Brutus, Breyten Breytenbach and Kamau Braithwaite.

*
- Keorapetse Kgositsile

Yes, Mandela, we shall be moved
We are men enough to have a conscience
We are Men enough to immortalize your song
We are Men enough to look Truth straight in the face

To defy the devils who traded in the human Spirit

For Black cargoes and material superprofits
We emerge to sing a Song of fire with Roland

We emerge to prove Truth cannot be enslaved
In chains or imprisoned in an island inferno
We emerge to stand Truth on her two feet
We emerge

To carry the hammer of humanism across the face of the Earth

Our voice in unison with our poet’s proudly says
‘Change is gonna come!’

-------
LIBERTY NEEDS GLASSES
- Tupac Shakur

Excuse me but Lady Liberty needs glasses
And so does Mrs. Justice by her side
Both the broads R blind as bats
Stumbling thru the system
Justice bumped into Mutulu and
Trippin’ on Geronimo Pratt
But stepped right over Oliver
And his crooked partner Ronnie
Justice stubbed her Big Toe on Mandela
And liberty was misquoted by the Indians
Slavery was a learning phase
Forgotten without a verdict
While Justice is on a rampage
4 endangered surviving Black males
I mean really if anyone really valued life
And cared about the masses
They’d take ‘em both 2 Pen Optical
And buy 2 pairs of glasses


FORTHCOMING NUBIART PROFILES
NUBIART: Focus on arts, business, education, health, political developments and the media.
~ JAN 9 2012: Book Review of Ligali founder Toyin Agbetu’s ‘Revoetry’.


DEC PROMO

~ ‘MADNESS’ - Professor [Groundation Music / SoulBeats Records – Out Now] This is the first solo album from Groundation lead singer Harrison ‘Professor’ Stafford, and was inspired by having made several trips to the imperial nation-state of Israel deciding to focus on what life was like for the original Palestinian inhabitants of the region and the search for some kind of peaceful co-existence. On his travels Palestinians told him they liked the groove of reggae music but didn’t like the Zionist lyrical content and imagery.

Rastafari and Gospel reggae focuses on the ideas of national solidarity, the triumph over adversity and liberation from enslavement. This makes the use of the symbol of the Star of David and references to the 12 Tribes of Israel, Solomon and David controversial for some even as the current imperialist nation state of Israel uses their creation mythology more as a hustling story to justify their intransigence, arrogance and political myopia. For the nations in the region their direct experience of the Hebrew creation mythology is of a migrant community from Ur of the Chaldees (southern Iraq) who believe their ‘unique’, incoherent vision of God entitles them to commit genocide and steal the land and wealth of any peoples on who they set their covetous sights in perpetuity.

There are a few well-known Muslim reggae artists in the west such as Prince Buster and Brother Yahya (with Jimmy Cliff dipping in and out on the issues). Other tracks that are considered as critical of Israel in its various manifestations are Barry Brown’s ‘Give Another Israel A Try’ (‘Some don’t know the man / Some only talk of the man’), The Royals ‘Israel Be Wise’ (‘I was a peaceful man until someone mash my corn / And I don’t want to shoot my brother down for an unjustful cause’), Michael Prophet’s ‘Turn Them Back’ (‘So don’t be like Cain and Abel / ‘Cos Cain killed Abel around the table’), Trevor Junior’s ‘Slave Ship’ (‘It looks like you love the lashing of the whip / Or you love to work on the big slave ship’) and Jah Woosh’s ‘Lick Him With The Dustbin’ (‘You, Mr Begin / You don’t have no behaviour’).

We, as pan-Afrikanists, have many criticisms of the whole Biblical / Talmudic / Judaeo-Christian / Israeli imperialist nation-state worldview including: the creation of the ‘Hamitic’ myth that has been used as a justification for discrimination against Afrikans and their enslavement; the anti-Afrikan lie that Hebrews were enslaved by a nameless ‘wicked’ Egyptian Pharaoh and while there they built the pyramids, sphinx and other monuments – documentary evidence conclusively proves the major monuments were built with paid labour before any group of people known as Hebrews claim to have existed. In fact, during the rule of the Hyksos ‘shepherd kings’, the only group that could even remotely be associated with the Hebrews, monuments were neglected and destroyed [Cf. Prof Cheikh Anta Diop, Prof Theophile Obenga, Jacob Carruthers, George M James, Dr Yosef ben-Jochanan, Prof John Henrik Clarke, et al]; their belief that having a creation myth written in a book was always superior to oral transmission of culture – we recently saw the film ‘Saraguro’ where the Inca leader is told to hear the word of ‘God’ or face death and is handed a Bible, he listens to the inanimate object but he doesn’t receive the wisdom, healing, food, emotional or social support he gets from his own nature-based God. His rejection leads to European imperialism across the Americas. That experience must have been repeated thousands of times across Afrika as Europeans exercised their self-delusional ‘manifest destiny’; the wealth of the current nation-state of Israel is funded by the exploitation and theft of the mineral wealth of Afrika and the continued impoverishment of the Afrikans who provide the minerals and on whose land the minerals are sited; we will never forgive or forget the imperialist nation–state of Israel for being a major armourer and funder of the apartheid regime in South Africa to the point of giving them the technology and materials to build a nuclear weapon with which to terrorise the rest of the Afrikan continent.

Musically, ‘Madness’ is a roots reggae album played by some of the top musicians in Jamaica: Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace on drums, Roots Radics founder Earl ‘Flabba Holt’ on bass, Lloyd ‘Obeah’ Denton on piano / organ, Dalton Browne and Little David on guitar, Uzziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson on percussion and Steven Stanley on keys and engineering. Alongside Professor vocal duties are shared by a stellar cast of Elders - ‘Daddy’ U-Roy on ‘Madness’, the Abyssinians’ Bernard Collins on ‘Roller Coaster’, Winston ‘Electric Dread’ McAnuff on ‘Right On’ and ‘Congo Ashanti’ Roy on ‘See Them Come’ wondering when will Jerusalem become a city of peace and freedom. There are eight well-mixed dub tracks on the album which brings back the vibes of those 1980s showcase albums.


NUBIART LIBRARY – DEC MEDIA
We will only review books we have read and DVDs we have seen and that are available at reasonable prices online or in shops or libraries. However, given the nature and current state of Afrikan publishing and production there may be books and films on this list that are worth the extra effort to track down.


~ ‘THE RETURN OF THE WATER SPIRIT’ – Pepetela [Heinemann African Writers Series. ISBN: 0-435-91210-0] Pepetela is a sociologist, writer and teacher and former government minister in the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government. He is the youngest author to receive the Camoes Prize, the highest decoration of Portuguese literature, in 1997.

In ‘The Return Of The Water Spirit’ buildings are coming down in Kinaxixi Square in what is called ‘Luanda Syndrome’ but no one seems to know the cause. Young Cassandra alone hears the songs of the Water Spirit which become more victorious. Is the Water Spirit the cause of the falling houses since the city lagoon has been blocked and built over? Joao Evangelista’s wife, Carmina, is a member of the youth wing of the communist Party in power and attributes the falling buildings to sabotage and even to Americans testing new technology.

The story is told against a backdrop of Angola gradually changing over from communism to a market economy in the midst of war. As a result everybody is trying to take advantage of this change to better themselves. Corruption has become endemic. Party members are stealing state property, civil and public servants are stealing from their workplace with only the poor getting arrested. Meanwhile, others are forming political parties in order to receive subsidies from the government. Both locals and foreigners turn the misfortune into a money-making venture and a spectacle to behold. The story fits into the Latin American tradition of magic realism but set in Angola.


NUBIART DIARY
~ ‘THE STORY OF LOVERS ROCK’. Dir: Menelik Shabazz. Dur: 96 mins. Lovers Rock, often dubbed ‘romantic reggae’ is a uniquely Afrikan British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Live performance, comedy sketches, dance, interviews and archive shed light on the music and the generation that embraced it. Lovers Rock allowed young people to experience intimacy and healing through dance at parties and clubs. It developed into a successful sound with national UK hits and was influential to British bands. These influences underline the impact the music was making in bridging the multi-cultural gap that polarized the times. The film sheds light on a forgotten period of British music, social and political history. For venues across Britain check: http://www.loversrockthefilm.com

~ LEWISHAM WAY BLACK FATHERS SUPPORT GROUP present a young people’s evening of poetry, debating and dinner to be held on Fri 23 Dec at 6-10pm at The Power League, Canadian Avenue, Catford, London, SE6 4SW. For further info and to reserve your place to enter the Poetry Competition Tel no: 020 8692 1577 / 07946 423 431 / 07946 457 642. E-mail: info@lwycc.org.uk Web: www.bfsg.org.uk

~

~ PASCF & GLOBAL AFRICAN CONGRESS KWANZAA CELEBRATIONS! On Fri 30 Dec at 3–10pm at 55 Willington Road, Off Landor Road, London, SW9 9NB. Adm: Free. Tel: 07940 005 907.

~ AFRICAN WOMEN’S RIGHTS OF PASSAGE PROGRAMME. There are 4 stages to the programme:
Pre-course preparation; Instructions over three sessions; The 21 day challenge; Report back to the group. You will be introduced to a number of themes and topics which will guide you on your journey into personal development and spiritual growth including: The multiple selves; Womb Wellness; Communication; Movement; Consumption; Beauty; Environment; Healing; Relationships; Your Kingman; Your Destiny. With cultural heritage therapist Ankh Amunet, a personal development coach and trained teacher of 20 years. On Thurs 5 Jan 2012 at 2-4pm / Fri 6 Jan 2012 at 12-2pm / Sat 7 Jan 2012 2-4pm & Sat 28 Jan 2012 at 2-4pm at John Harvard Library, 211 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1JA. Adm: £40 / £28 concs. Tel: 07939 025 011. E-mail: circlesof9ether@rocketmail.com

~ PCS IN ASSOCIATION WITH BLACK HISTORY STUDIES presents ‘Namibia: The Original Holocaust’. In remembrance of the victims of the Genocide of the Herero and Narma people. The Genocide of the Herero by the Germans is considered to be the first genocide in the 20th century. Learn about the events that led to the genocide and how this period links to Adolf Hitler and the theories of racial superiority and inferiority. On Mon 9 Jan at 6.45-9.30pm at the PCS Headquarters, 160 Falcon Road, Clapham Junction, London, SW11 2LN. Adm: £4. Tel / Fax: 020 8881 0660. Mobile: 07951 234 233. E-mail: info@blackhistorystudies.com Web: http://www.blackhistorystudies.com

~ ‘THIN BLACK LINE(S): THE LEGACY OF BLACK WOMEN ARTISTS’


Put together by Tate curator Paul Goodwin and artist Lubaina Himid, MBE, ‘Thin Black Line(s)’ presents a selection of pieces drawn from three major exhibitions of Afrikan and Asian women artists curated by Himid in the early 1980s: ‘Five Black Women’ at the Africa Centre (1983); ‘Black Women Time Now’ at the Battersea Arts Centre (1983-84); and ‘The Thin Black Line’ at the Institute for Contemporary Art (1985). The display includes works by Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce, Lubaina Himid, Claudette Johnson, Ingrid Pollard, Veronica Ryan and Maud Sulter. Drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs are showcased alongside a video documentary on the ‘Black Art’ scene and archival documents comprising of exhibition posters, invitations, letters, etc. In Britain, the Caribbean Artists Movement (1966-72) and the Black Art (1980s) have enabled Afrikan artists and intellectuals to retain ownership of the discourse on their arts and cultures. Until 18 Mar 2012 at Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7887 8888.

~ REEL TRINI fortnightly screenings. The new rendezvous for local film aficionados on Sundays at 5pm at Trevor’s Edge in St Augustine, Trinidad. Tel: 744-4956. E-mail: caribbeinginc@gmail.com

Afrikan Quest


Contact Details

Kubara Zamani, Afrikan Quest International, PO Box 35165, London, SE5 8WU. Tel: 07811 494 969. E-mail: afrikanquest@hotmail.com Web: www.southwark.tv/quest/aqhome.asp


External Links
Afrikan Quest International


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