December 2010


 Leo, siku ya tano katika hadithi ya kwanzaa, ni ya nia (purpose):

[  i,S.I.S Note: nia yetu is Not so randomly connected to nai (na-eeee), center of legendary crossroads. These ndugus’ werd! Sound! Powah! are on repeat in our wish lists of soundtracks for the q_t werd (right after asa en nneka)

 u’r my specialty, all up in my life….

NAI..(more so nowadays known as the capital of) /

ROB(ber)/I(es,

concrete jungle where dreams are made of, the lights will inspire you…

nai-robi!)]

 Nia is to make our collective vocation the building of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

 

Thursday, December 30th, 6 pm, Program, African American Arts & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton:

 

[Na nia pia yaweza patikana katika hadithi kama ya…Namoratunga: The First Archeoastronomical Evidence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Namoratunga, a megalithic site in northwestern Kenya, has an alignment of 19 basalt pillars that are nonrandomly oriented toward certain stars and constellations. The same stars and constellations are used by modern eastern Cushitic peoples to calculate an accurate calendar. The fact that Namoratunga dates to about 300 B.C. suggests that a prehistoric calendar based on detailed astronomical knowledge was in use in eastern Africa. ]

[Lynch, BM and LH Robbins. 1978. Namoratunga: The first archeoastronomical evidence in sub-Saharan Africa. Science 200:766–68. no. 4343 DOI: 10.1126/science.200.4343.766 …..

These are the archives en contexts of the q_t werd.]

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Day 4 – Ujamaa – 5th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration presented by The Village Project

Day 4: Wednesday, December 29th
Ujamaa (cooperative economics): to build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses together.

The Village Project Presents

5th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, 2010

“Uniting to Strengthen Our Families and Communities”

December 26, 2010 thru January 1, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO — The Village Project, in collaboration with the YMCA, MOEWD, SUPERVSIOR ROSS MIRKARIMI and other community organizations, presents its 5th Kwanzaa Celebration 2010 for the City of San Francisco. The celebration is seven days of free events throughout the city to celebrate the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa. There will be plenty of food & live entertainment, featuring the infamous blues & jazz vocalist, Lady Mem’fis and blues legend, Bobbie Spider Webb.

Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is celebrated annually by more than 30 million people worldwide, over seven days from December 26 to January 1.

The values of Kwanzaa, Nguzo Saba, are critical tools for addressing the issues facing the African-American community. Adrian Williams has revived the celebration of Kwanzaa throughout San Francisco, by connecting traditionally African American communities for this celebration. She is the founder of The Village Project, a youth service organization focusing on education and cultural enrichment for youth and their families in the Western Addition.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa will be hosted at nine different venues throughout the City. Participating communities will present exciting and enriching cultural programs intended to both engage and entertain the entire family. The Community Partners of these events include: THE YMCA, THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF ECONOMIC & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, MAYOR’S OFFICE OF NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICES, SUPERVISOR ROSS MIRKARIMI, COMCAST, RENAISSANCE PARENTS OF SUCCESS, WEST BAY CONFERENCE CENTER, GUSSIES CHICKEN & WAFFLES , WAFRC ,OMI FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER, MARCUS BOOKSTORE, AFRICAN AMERICAN HOLISTIC WELLNESS PROGRAM, SF BLACK FILM FESTIVAL, PLANET FILLMORE COMMUNICATIONS, MINNIE & LOVIE REC CENTER, BAYVIEW PUBLIC LIBRARY, AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTS AND CULTURE COMPLEX, THE JAZZ HERITAGE CENTER, YOSHI’S, MOMAGIC, THE MUSICIANS PROJECT, CHRISTINE HARRIS, MALIK SENEFENU, BROTHA CLINT, KWANZA MORTON, MEL SIMMONS & S.N.I.G.

When: December 26, 2010 thru January 1, 2011
Where: Throughout San Francisco
Tickets: No Charge event

Comcast Newsmakers: The Village Project Celebrates Kwanzaa in a New Decade – San Francisco Style

financial districts. jua kali industries.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics): to build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses together.
Wednesday, December 29th,

1:00 pm, Buchanan YMCA/WAFRC, 1530 Buchanan;

 7 pm, Minnie & Lovie Rec Center, 650 Capitol Street:

Na kesho ni siku ya tano, ni ya hadithi ya Nia

 

[I,S.I.S note: reposted with big love en respekt, in the spirit of bredrin en dadas in solidarity]

http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2010/12/kwanzaa-black-trans-style-ujima.html

 [Siku ya jumapili, katika hadithi ya kwanzaa, ilikuwa ya ‘umoja’, na kila siku inafaa tujichagulie ukweli wa desturi na mila yetu, habari ya leo ni ujima. Hadithi ya the q_t werd yanaweza kuelezwa na haya nguzo saba ya kwanzaa, kwa hivyo…..in the spirit of bredrin en dadas in solidarity,

we (as in the colour spill productions team behind the doc in the works on dis’ blog en others….. ) are cooking, writing, en sharing in grassroots/gift networks,  the next week through to the last moon of the year of the tiger, in dedication to kwanzaa  en (mo’ of) our Afrikan stories,…]

Siku ya pili ilikuwa Kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah)         Self Determination

“To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.”

The second Principle of the Nguzo Saba is self-determination. This too expresses itself as both commitment and practice. It demands that we as an African people define, defend and develop ourselves instead of allowing or encouraging others to do this. It requires that we recover lost memory and once again shape our world in our own image and interest. And it is a call to recover and speak our own special truth to the world and raise images above the earth that reflect our capacity for human greatness and progress.

The first act of a free people is to shape its world in its own image and interest. And it is a statement about their conception of self and their commitment to self-determination. [Frantz] Fanon has said each person must ask him or herself three basic questions:

       1.  Who am I?

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/59505


       2.  Am I really who I say I am?

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/59500

[….between the lines are many mo’ of our stories of struggle for pan-Afrikan liberation, of  how folks been harvesting indigenus en diasporic resources across space and time ]

To mark the attained ‘pseudo’ independence on the eve of 9th December 1961, Mwenge wa Uhuru (Freedom/Uhuru Torch) was placed on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro by Alexander Nyirenda as a symbol of freedom. Here, I wish to argue that, the ritual of placing the torch and the annual Uhuru Torch race (Mbio za Mwenge wa Uhuru) represent Nyerere’s admiration of the performing arts and its role in shaping people’s consciousness towards a common goal.

The establishment of the Ministry of Culture and Youth could be traced to 1962 President’s Inaugural Address. In this speech, Nyerere outlined the roles of the ministry, including facilitating the process of enabling Tanzanians to regain their cultural pride (Nyerere, 1966, p. 187). In the same speech to the parliament, Nyerere indicated his concern on how colonialism dehumanised Afrikan arts. His speech became the blueprint of Tanzania’s ‘cultural policy’ and led to various art reformations. This included the ‘institutionalization’ of National Art Groups (NAGs).

The aim of institutionalizing NAGs was to fulfill Nyerere’s quest for the renaissance of Afrikan-ness in the arts and culture (Bakari and Materego, 2008).

The institutionalized groups included the National Ngoma Troupe (1963), National Acrobatic Group (1969) and National Drama Group (1972). These groups were designed to act as a model of performing arts in Tanzania.

For example, the National Ngoma Troupe had 30 artists recruited from the various regions in Tanzania, comprising of both musicians and dancers (Lange, 2002, p. 55). It should be noted that the process of building a national culture through theatre groups dates back to the birth of TANU in 1954 when Hiari ya Moyo under Suleiman Mwinamila participated effectively in creating a national theatre (Semzaba, 1983).

From the beginning of TANU formation, decolonization movement started and Hiari ya Moyo was forced to put forward nationalism and liberation concepts that is, to fight against colonialism and (cultural) imperialism.

Amka Msilale (Wake up, don’t sleep) was their first recorded performance in 1954.

Amka Msilale (Wake up don’t sleep)
Msiwe wajinga mu Tanganyika (Don’t be stupid, you are in Tanganyika [territory])
Tanganyika ni mali yetu (Tanganyika is our property/wealth)
Tukidai tutapewa (If we demand it[back], we’ll be given)

 

(Semzaba, 1983, p. 22)

The multiplication of NAGs trickled down to the village levels. The process did not only end with the establishment, but also facilitation of their existence which were meant to be the foundation of the national artistic pride. These groups performed in political rallies, state banquets and meetings at all levels. Members of the NAGs were state employees. Since the state subsidized most of the costs and paid for their monthly salaries, the groups were not allowed to charge or receive extra payment for their performances. The focus was on the promotion of national unity and on echoing state’s Ujamaa policies. One of the positive outcomes of such initiatives was to make theatre an active activity at various levels of the society (Mlama, 1985, p.103).

The union ‘ritual’ between Tanganyika and Zanzibar of 26th April 1964 pictured above, can be referred to as another artistic performance.

Nyerere mixed the soil of the two countries in addition to the common approach of signing the treaty that is, the exchange of the Articles of Union.

The costumes and the process of mixing the soil symbolised how Nyerere valued and treasured arts and his belief on the content of traditional theatre.

Mwalimu, as Nyerere commonly known, also produced various pieces of theatre works. It should be noted that, in his mission to decolonize theatre, Mwalimu at various times, translated the so-called famous Shakespeare plays in Kiswahili. According to Rubin and Diakante (2001, p. 301) the translated plays were Julius Caesar as ‘Julius Kaizari’ (1968), Macbeth as ‘Makbeth’ (1968) and The Merchant of Venice as ‘Mabepari wa Venisi’ (1969).

One of the explanations of why Nyerere translated those works could be that by unfolding what was within the ‘famous’ English based theatre – The Shakespeare’s – he could add value to people’s theatre and ‘regain their pride’. He believed that Kiswahili readers could better understand the content and context of the Shakespeare’s plays and have an opportunity to compare African/Tanzanian and foreign/western theatre in the process of regaining their pride. Secondly, for Mwalimu, it was important to promote Kiswahili as the language of theatre (Rubin and Diakante, 2001, p. 302). Thirdly, perhaps it was a way of proving to the world that what the majority were glorifying as holy literature, a simple person – a proletarian (as he preferred to call himself) could read, understand and even translate. In fact in his 1962 speech to the parliament, Nyerere lamented how the European education dwelled more on teaching people how to dance fox trot, waltz and rock ‘n’ roll. He asserted that this made educated people unable to dance traditional dances such as gombe sugu, the mangala, kiduo or lele mama whereby some have not even heard about them (Nyerere 1966, p. 187).

Looking at how Mwalimu translated the works, one has to read between the lines so as to get a sense of his inner motive. For example the The Merchant of Venice could literally be translated as Mfanyabiashara (or Wafanyabiashara in plural) wa Venice. The word mabepari (bepari in singular) means capitalist(s). Perhaps after reading the book, he realized that the merchant behaviours could not be differentiated from those of the capitalists. In addition, it might be that he wanted to concisely deliver the point home since, being a self-proclaimed African socialist (Mjamaa), he was anti-capitalist. As noted, he purposely used the plural form of the title as opposed to its singular ‘merchant’. It can also been observed that the years when he translated the works that is, between 1967 and 1969 reflects the promotion of the then dominant ideology – Ujamaa. Perhaps he wanted to emphasise it to people. All these translations and initiatives indicated, arguably, his stance against imperialism and its various manifestations. He saw imperialism as the cause of misconceived African history and arts.

Mwalimu was also able to link his Ujamaa philosophy with fine arts. The famous Makonde sculpture known as Dimoongo by Robert Yakobo Sangwani was renamed as Ujamaa in the 1960s after The Arusha Declaration of 1967. The sculpture Dimoongo demonstrated a Makonde strength or power. Looking at the way the sculptor had been able to construct one person at the bottom supporting others and how those who have been supported support themselves as group, translated itself to Mwalimu’s idea of Ujamaa (Erick, 2009). It is said that it was Mwalimu who renamed it to Ujamaa after seeing its structure.

The Tanzanian Coat of Arms as one of the national symbols represents the artistic creativity contained in other symbols such as the flag, national anthem and the Uhuru Torch. It is moulded to embrace the warrior’s shield in the midst of elephant tusks mounted on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. One can also see the man on the left and the woman on the right, standing in balanced postures on the sides of the warrior’s shield with cloves and cotton on their feet respectively. The warrior’s shield has the Uhuru Torch, Tanzanian flag, crossed axe and hoe, spear and water sign. All these symbolises the beneath motto of Uhuru na Umoja (Freedom and Unity) – this is a title of Nyerere’s (1966) book. It is important to notice the demonstrated warrior’s shield which depicts various historical battles for freedom. The man and woman reflect the respect for human equality regardless of gender, colour or any other social aspect.

As pointed out earlier, the establishment of the Ministry of Culture was the earliest post-independence initiative to fight against cultural imperialism. According to Ngugi:

Cultural imperialism in the era of neo colonialism can be a dangerous cancer because it can take new, subtle forms. It can hide under cloaks of militant nationalism, calls for dead authenticity, performances of cultural symbolism, and even under native racist self-assertive banners that are often substitute for national self criticism and collective pride in the culture and history of resistance (1997, p. 18).

As Ngugi explained, it is evidently that Nyerere knew the consequences and magnitude of cultural imperialism and he took measures to overcome it. He believed that a people’s language was an important factor in this struggle. He devised subtle modalities to absorb imperialist influences in theatre. The immediate approach was to provide artists with the theme of their performances i.e. Ujamaa. Since artists looked at Nyerere as a national and international role model, they could easily transform his actions and decisions into theatrical works. The philosophical speeches and arguments which Nyerere preferred to deliver probably were among the ones which influenced the artists.

The other theatrical landmark was the birth of Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in 1977. This was the merger of TANU and Afro Shiraz Party (ASP). After the birth of CCM, Hiari ya Moyo made a composition titled Leo Sio Sherehe Tunaanza Chama (Today is not a ceremony, we are inaugurating a party).

Kufa kwa TANU na Afro (The death of TANU and Afro [ASP])
Sio kufikiwa kwa Ujamaa kamili (Is not the attainment of Ujamaa)
Wametimiza yao waliyoyaweza (They have fulfilled what they could)
CCM lake ni kuendeleza (CCM has the responsibility to take over)
Kwenye Ujamaa kutufikisha (So as to reach Ujamaa)
(Semzaba, 1983, p. 26)

This was the time when we were told chama kimeshika hatamu – party supremacy. Therefore even artistic works especially songs and performances by the NAGs were geared towards party supremacy and the promotion of Ujamaa. Mlama adds, “the ideological intention behind the promotion of these groups [NAGs] resulted to the development of a theatre for propaganda which … is an attempt to domesticate the theatre to serve interest of the ruling ideology” (1991, p. 103).

Despite all these efforts by Nyerere, there was no defined socialist cultural policy (Mlama , 1985). The 1962 and subsequent speeches were taken as part of the art/cultural policy. The so-called policy was based on the state officials’ statements. It thus was taken for granted that the growth of culture would go hand in hand with the success of Ujamaa:

This argument ignores the fact that the economic base and the cultural superstructure determine and influence each other and cannot therefore be separated. It also ignores the fact that while the country is waiting for socialist culture to come it is under constant exposure to the influences of capitalist and imperialist culture which is part and parcel of the imperialist struggle against socialism. There is a tendency to think that the war against imperialism is only an economic one, and a failure to realise that imperialism is fighting the war against socialism both economically and culturally (Mlama, 1985, p. 5).

Unfortunately, the ministry or department which was designed for arts and culture shunted in several places since 1962. By 1995, the ministry or its culture component has been shifted in about 11 ministries and offices (Askew, 2002, p. 186). This movement has been taken to mean lack of seriousness about matters which have to do with culture especially arts (Askew, 2002; Lange, 2002; Lihamba, 1985b; Mlama, 1985). Instead of working on a clear cultural policy which could comply with Ujamaa, the responsible ministry for culture was busy sending groups to perform in party-state meetings and functions. This is partly due to the influence of Ujamaa ideology and party supremacy. Giving several examples Mlama confirmed that this puppet attitude has resulted into the art of parroting (Mlama, 1985, p. 14).

To protect the party supremacy, Radio Tanzania – Dar es Salaam (RTD) and the National Music Council (BAMUTA) ended up in direct censorship which was done by cultural officers at all levels (Mlama, 1985, pp. 14-15). Mlama noted that “such control betrays a misguided view of the role of art in ideology. Art can be critical and yet contribute positively to ideological development. Parrot art does not contribute to the socialist construction because it does not analyse problems and point out solution” (1985, p. 15).

Although Mwalimu was an artist, fond of art and a good teacher, he was not lucky enough to nurture his fellow politicians especially in his party to appreciate art out of political propaganda. Nyerere speeches were misinterpreted to mean sending a group of ngoma to the airport or to the national stadium, dancing on the harsh sun, negotiating to show themselves to the guests of ‘honour’ while security officers are busy strangling their movements and tempering with their emotions even before they start to perform. It was on the same time of implementing Nyerere’s ideas when political slogans like kazi si lele mama (‘work is not a dance of lele mama’) which directly abuse arts came up (Mlama, 1985 p.17).

Mwalimu’s love for the art was not spared by imperialism either. The proposition to re-structure the economy through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) necessitated the downsizing of state expenditures. Apart from other artistic and political challenges of the NAGs, the government could no longer subsidise them by the end of the 1970s. The focus was to repay debts through the withdrawal of budget allocation to social services such as theatre and ‘ploughing’ towards development, modernity and universalism i.e. complying with neoliberal policies.

Thus it is important to emphasize that the project to build national culture through theatre was dismantled when the state had to downsize its expenditures according to IMF and World Bank neoliberal conditions.

“Throughout the country, government-owned institutions were either scrapped, had to curtail their activities or were later privatised. Cultural troupes owned by such organisations ceased to function” (Lihamba, 2004, p. 243). At the end, “liberalisation policies pursued from the early 1980s made theatre a commodity for sale like any other” (Rubin and Diakante, 2001, p. 304).

The state dissolved NAGs and instead, formed a National Art institute in 1980. This institute was situated in Ilala Sharif-Shamba in Dar es Salaam, in the current National Art Council (BASATA) premises. In 1981, the institute was transformed and shifted to Bagamoyo and became Bagamoyo College of Arts (BCA) and currently it is known as the Institute of Arts and Culture, Bagamoyo or TaSUBa (Makoye, 1998, p. 95).

To ensure sustainability of art, Nyerere created opportunities for artists to produce and survive on their own. Despite the fact that there was no clear policy, in his speeches which were mostly translated as policy directives one could sense his idea, creativity and passion for art. He established Nyumba ya Sanaa in 1974, positioning it in the middle of Dar es Salaam. He believed that if it could be efficiently utilized, it would reduce the artists’ begging syndrome to donors and the state, which enslaves them. It is surprising to note that even Nyumba ya Sanaa has been one of the places the state want to privatise while at the same time struggling to secure funds to build other places of the same nature in Bagamoyo (Naluyaga, 2009).

The ‘Zanzibar Declaration’ of 1991, which replaced the Arusha Declaration (1967), could be regarded as the ‘marketisation of arts’ like any other product (Rubin and Diakante, 2001). Artists, who are supposed to compete in this market, were not well equipped to cope with the changes in terms of competition and producing quality works. Art education could be one of the state’s supports to assist them. The 1997 Cultural Policy’s clauses 2.1.2 (p. 4) and 6.2.5 (p. 19) stated the necessity of introducing arts (music, fine art, sculpture and the performing arts) as examinable subjects in both primary and secondary schools. It was not until 2008, when the government implemented such provision.

Although the outcomes are yet to be realised, a number of challenges could be identified. Students are being oriented in the English language which prevents them from understanding arts as a simulacrum of their culture which is mainly reflected in the Kiswahili language. Insufficient teachers, teaching and learning materials are some of the other challenges (Mmasy, 2009). One might question what was the responsible ministry getting prepared for? (…)

[ http://zanzibardaima.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/union-of-tanganyika-and-zanzibar-african-initiative-or-cold-war-rivalry/ ]


      

 3.  Am I all that I ought to be?

These are questions of history and culture, not simply queries or questions of personal identity. More profoundly, they are questions of personal identity. More profoundly, they are questions of collective identity, based and borne out in historical and cultural practice. And the essential quality of that practice must be the quality of self-determination.

“To answer the question of “Who am I?” correctly, then, is to know and live one’s history and to practice one’s culture.”

“To answer the question of “Am I really who I am?” is to have and employ a cultural criteria of authenticity, i.e., criteria of what is real and unreal, what is appearance and essence, what is culturally-rooted and foreign.”

“And to answer the question of “Am I all I ought to be?” is to self-consciously possess and use ethical and cultural standards which measure men, women and children in terms of the quality of their thought and practice in the context of who they are and must become – in both an African and human sense.”

Practice Kujichagulia every day!

SOURCE: “The African American Holiday of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family Community & Culture”
by Maulana Karenga, University of Sankore Press, Los Angeles, California, 1988, ISBN 0-943412-09-9

Na siku ya umoja, ilisherehekewa, mara ya kwanza….On this day, in 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga began the first observance of Kwanzaa.

 There are seven days in the Kwanzaa Festival. Each embodies a different principle.

The first day of Kwanzaa is called UMOJA which means UNITY. 

[hadithi kama] Rosa Parks, with her courageous defiance of segregation on a bus in Alabama  in 1955, ignited a comprehensive, UNIFIED movement of African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama that spread across the country consuming the vicious vestiges of legalized segregation that kept much of America in virtual chains. For 13 months, the Black citizens of Montgomery,  completely abandoned the bus system and walked, and drove each other, back and forth to work day after day after day, until the “authorities” capitulated.

 (…..)Also, during the Civil War, Sojourner Truth, after escaping from bondage on the Underground Railroad, returned to the South, over a dozen times, to lead bands of her fellow African Americans to safety, without thought of her own safety and well-being.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s many of thousands of Cuban soldiers fought, and many died, in SOLIDARITY with the liberation struggles of Africans in Mozambique, Angola and Namibia. Today, as then, thousands of medical personnel and technicians are hard at work helping to better the lives of the people in the Motherland.

Michael Manley, as prime minister of Jamaica, never hesitated to make COMMON  CAUSE with the peoples of Cuba, and oppressed peoples around the world, no matter which  powerful nations objected to his actions.

Kwame Nkrumah, one of the foremost proponents of Pan Africanism, did likewise, putting into actual effect the doctrines of Marcus Garvey who believed that Afrikan peoples are, ultimately, one nation (……)

Source [ http://theafrocentricexperience.com ]

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are called the Nguzo Saba, which represent the living practices which helped and inspired our Afrikan ancestors to endure oppression…..

 

[between the lines, are many mo’ of our stories spilling betwixt communities of practice in villages en di’ global urban pan-afrikan matrix, hadithi kama……

 

77. On bling culture, one seventeenth century visitor to southern African empire of Monomotapa, that ruled over this vast region, wrote that: “The people dress in various ways: at court of the Kings their grandees wear cloths of rich silk, damask, satin, gold and silk cloth; these are three widths of satin, each width four covados [2.64m], each sewn to the next, sometimes with gold lace in between, trimmed on two sides, like a carpet, with a gold and silk fringe, sewn in place with a two fingers’ wide ribbon, woven with gold roses on silk.”

78. Southern Africans mined gold on an epic scale. One modern writer tells us that: “The estimated amount of gold ore mined from the entire region by the ancients was staggering, exceeding 43 million tons. The ore yielded nearly 700 tons of pure gold which today would be valued at over $­­­­­­7.5 billion.”

79. Apparently the Monomotapan royal palace at Mount Fura had chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. An eighteenth century geography book provided the following data: “The inside consists of a great variety of sumptuous apartments, spacious and lofty halls, all adorned with a magnificent cotton tapestry, the manufacture of the country. The floors, cielings [sic], beams and rafters are all either gilt or plated with gold curiously wrought, as are also the chairs of state, tables, benches &c. The candle-sticks and branches are made of ivory inlaid with gold, and hang from the cieling by chains of the same metal, or of silver gilt.”

80. Monomotapa had a social welfare system. Antonio Bocarro, a Portuguese contemporary, informs us that the Emperor: “shows great charity to the blind and maimed, for these are called the king’s poor, and have land and revenues for their subsistence, and when they wish to pass through the kingdoms, wherever they come food and drinks are given to them at the public cost as long as they remain there, and when they leave that place to go to another they are provided with what is necessary for their journey, and a guide, and some one to carry their wallet to the next village. In every place where they come there is the same obligation.”

81. Many southern Africans have indigenous and pre-colonial words for ‘gun’. Scholars have generally been reluctant to investigate or explain this fact.

82. Evidence discovered in 1978 showed that East Africans were making steel for more than 1,500 years: “Assistant Professor of Anthropology Peter Schmidt and Professor of Engineering Donald H. Avery have found as long as 2,000 years ago Africans living on the western shores of Lake Victoria had produced carbon steel in preheated forced draft furnaces, a method that was technologically more sophisticated than any developed in Europe until the mid-nineteenth century.”

83. Ruins of a 300 BC astronomical observatory was found at Namoratunga in Kenya. Afrikans were mapping the movements of stars such as Triangulum, Aldebaran, Bellatrix, Central Orion, etcetera, as well as the moon, in order to create a lunar calendar of 354 days.

Source: http://www.whenweruled.com/articles.php?lng=en&pg=40 ]

THE FOCUS OF KWANZAA

Annual Kwanzaa observances serve to reinforce manifesting the principles of Kwanzaa, as a way of life, on a daily basis – by reflecting on the past, in order to understand the present and plan for the future. 

Kwanzaa centers around seven (7) principles, with particular emphasis on the social, political, economic and cultural needs of Black people

[ na hadithi kama…

84. Autopsies and caesarean operations were routinely and effectively carried out by surgeons in pre-colonial Uganda. The surgeons routinely used antiseptics, anaesthetics and cautery iron. Commenting on a Ugandan caesarean operation that appeared in the Edinburgh Medical Journal in 1884, one author wrote: “The whole conduct of the operation . . . suggests a skilled long-practiced surgical team at work conducting a well-tried and familiar operation with smooth efficiency.”

85. Sudan in the mediaeval period had churches, cathedrals, monasteries and castles. Their ruins still exist today.

86. The mediaeval Nubian Kingdoms kept archives. From the site of Qasr Ibrim legal texts, documents and correspondence were discovered. An archaeologist informs us that: “On the site are preserved thousands of documents in Meroitic, Latin, Greek, Coptic, Old Nubian, Arabic and Turkish.”

87. Glass windows existed in mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found evidence of window glass at the Sudanese cities of Old Dongola and Hambukol.

88. Bling culture existed in the mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found an individual buried at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the city of Old Dongola. He was clad in an extremely elaborate garb consisting of costly textiles of various fabrics including gold thread. At the city of Soba East, there were individuals buried in fine clothing, including items with golden thread.

89. Style and fashion existed in mediaeval Sudan. A dignitary at Jebel Adda in the late thirteenth century AD was interned with a long coat of red and yellow patterned damask folded over his body. Underneath, he wore plain cotton trousers of long and baggy cut. A pair of red leather slippers with turned up toes lay at the foot of the coffin. The body was wrapped in enormous pieces of gold brocaded striped silk.

90. Sudan in the ninth century AD had housing complexes with bath rooms and piped water. An archaeologist wrote that Old Dongola, the capital of Makuria, had: “a[n] . . . eighth to . . . ninth century housing complex. The houses discovered here differ in their hitherto unencountered spatial layout as well as their functional programme (water supply installation, bathroom with heating system) and interiors decorated with murals.” (…..)]

THE SYMBOLS OF KWANZAA

  1. MAZAO  =  THE CROPS
    These are symbolic of Afrikan harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
    ..
  2. MKEKA  =  KWANZAA MA(A)T
    This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
    ..
  3. KINARA  =  KWANZAA CANDLE HOLDER
    This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people — continental Afrikans.
    ..
  4. MAHINDI   =  CORN
    This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
    ..
  5. MISHUMAA SABA  =  KWANZAA CANDLES
    These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, the matrix and minimum set of values which Afrikan people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
    ..
  1. KIKOMBE CHA UMOJA  =  UNITY CUP
    This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
    .. [91. In 619 AD, the Nubians sent a gift of a giraffe to the Persians.]

 

  1. ZAWADI  =  KWANZAA GIFTS
    These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.

Gifts are given mainly to children, but must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book is to emphasize the Afrikan value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Nubia, and the heritage symbol to reaffirm and reinforce the Afrikan commitment to tradition and history.

[source: http://www.endarkenment.com/kwanzaa/index.html  

Context: reclaiming and harvesting the powah! Of pan-afrikan rituals in communities of practice]

 

Na leo (pia) ni habari ya ujima,

ase, ase…….

(Reposted with big love en respekt from) Chuka Nnabuife on why 2011 is the Year of Interesting Books Coming

NEXT year will be eventful in the African books section. Already publishers are introducing books they will release in the first half of the year. Amazon will put out a new anthology containing the works of Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, John Coetzee, Nardine Gordimer, Ben Okri and other Caine Prize winning writers. Ngugi wa Thiongo will also come out with a new book due for release in February 2011 on the Amazon list.

In Pambazuka Press, an about to be released book, No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way, captures the tale of resilence while throwing the reader back to memory of the segregative Apartheid rule in South Africa.

The anthology of factual tales captured in both poetic and prose (media feature report format) narrates the several accounts of Cape Town, South Africa’s Symphony Way pavement dwellers who, like in film story, found themselves catapulted from their hitherto poor settlement to an better developed estate upon the end of the Apartheid only to be pushed out of the houses almost as suddenly as their fortune changed.

The publishers promote the work thus: “This anthology is written by shack-dwelling families in Cape Town who were moved into houses but soon afterwards evicted again. They organised the Symphony Way Anti-Eviction and here write about their experiences.

 “Many outside South Africa imagine that after Mandela was freed and the ANC won free elections all was well. But the last two decades have led to increased poverty and inequality. Although a few black South Africans have become wealthy, for many the struggle against apartheid never ended because the ethos of apartheid continues to live.”

The book follows several hundreds of shanty-dwelling families in Cape Town who, early in 2007, were moved into houses they had been waiting for since the end of Apartheid. But soon they were told that the move had been illegal and they were kicked out of their new homes. In protest, they built shacks next to the road opposite the housing project. And, soon a vibrant settlement of hundreds of ramshackled huts inhabited by organised protesting settlers blossomed there. It became known as Symphony Way. Home ground of Symphony Way Anti-Eviction Campaign, whose membership vowed to stay on the road until the government gave them permanent housing. Eventually, the tales from the protesting slum-dwellers turns out a warm, close-knit and eventful one – full of vibrant communal lives, simmering relationships, love, hate and blood ties. The book also rubs off some disturbing feeling that the robust but poor settlement was forcefully moved to make the country host last summer’s football’s World Cup without what the authorities deem an odd sight for tourists.

Promoters’ of the book who inform that its audience target include anthropologists, activists, campaigners, NGO-workers, academics, journalists, commentators state: “This anthology is both testimony and poetry. There are stories of justice miscarried, of violence domestic and public, of bigotry and xenophobia. But amid the horror there is beauty: relationships between aunties, husbands, wives and children; daughters named Hope and Symphony. This book is a means to dignity, a way for the poor to reflect and be reflected. It is testimony that there’s thinking in the shacks, that there are humans who dialogue, theorise and fight to bring about change.

Two Symphony Way evictees were featured in a Guardian article of 1 April 2010: Badronessa Morris: ‘The police treat us like animals. They swear at us, pepper spray us, search us in public, even children. At 10 o’clock you must be inside: the police come and tell you to go into your place and turn down the music. In my old home we used to sit outside all night with the fire.’

Jane Roberts: ‘It’s a dumping place. They took people from the streets because they don’t want them in the city for the World Cup. Now we are living in a concentration camp.’

No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way set for release in March 2011 is available for ebook order in United Kingdom.

Another up coming book of interest from the same publishers is African Sexualities: A Reader, by Sylvia Tamale. In the work Ms Tamale probes, the perculiar traits of African sexualities with the aim “to inspire a new generation of students and teachers to study, reflect and gain fresh and critical insights into the complex issues of gender and sexuality.”

Promoters say the book seeks to open new frontiers of thinking about African notiopns of sex. African Sexualities stretches the space to several spheres of multidisciplinary scholarship.

The book with authors who are scholars, researchers, professionals, practitioners and experts from different regions of Africa and Africa’s Diaspora comes in themed sections, all introduced by a framing essay.”

The authors use essays, case studies, poetry, news clips, songs, fiction, memoirs, letters, interviews, short film scripts and photographs from a wide political spectrum to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, analyse the body as a site of political, cultural and social contestation and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities. The book adopts a feminist approach that analyses sexuality within patriarchal structures of oppression while also highlighting its emancipatory potential.

“As well as using popular culture to help address the ‘what, why, how, when and where’ questions, the contributors also provide a critical mapping of African sexualities that informs readers about the plurality and complexities of African sexualities – desires, practices, fantasies, identities, taboos, abuses, violations, stigmas, transgressions and sanctions. At the same time, they pose gender-sensitive and politically aware questions that challenge the reader to interrogate assumptions and hegemonic sexuality discourses, thereby unmapping the intricate and complex terrain of African sexualities.

“The blend of approaches and styles enhances the book’s accessibility and usefulness for teaching as well as allowing for historical and textual contextualisation.”

It is written for audiences in the higher education and postgradute levels. Due date of emerging from press is June 2011.

Among other books coming from Pambazuka and Fahamu books are African Women Writing Resistance, An Anthology of Contemporary Voices an anthology of African-born contributors who “move beyond the linked dichotomies of victim/oppressor and victim/heroine to present their experiences of resistance in full complexity: they are at the forward edge of the tide of women’s empowerment moving across Afrika.”

My Dream is to be Bold, a feminist oriented work is among them as well as Dust from our Eyes an Unblinkered Look at Africa, a Joan Baxter tale of the diversity of Africa and the resilience and spirit of its people.

From Citizen to Refugee, Uganda Asians come to Britain by Mahmood Mamdani is another nostalgia awakening book to be expected. It dwells on the seriously embattled life of Asians in Uganda during the eventful dictatorial reign of the late Gen. Idi Amin in the 1970s. It is a re-publication of 1972’s original. The author, Mamdani, an eye witness, describes the feelings experienced by Uganda’s Asians and tells of their camps’ political culture.

[http://www.compassnewspaper.com/NG/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71700%3A2011-year-of-interesting-books-coming&catid=54%3Aarts&Itemid=694]

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Montreal+protesters+rally+support+WikiLeaks/3999493/story.html

 

On Friday, December 17, from 9:00am-5:00pm, the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program (BHESP), in collaboration with the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) and other local women’s rights and human rights organizations, commemorated International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers.  The gathering in Nairobi will include a silent public procession, starting at Koinange Street, and ending at the Sarakasi Dome, in Ngara, where the rest of the programme will be held. The event will include: a session to share the findings of recent research done on sex worker rights in Kenya; testimonies by sex workers who have experienced violence; edutainment in the form of theatre, music, dance, and spoken word; short speeches by various key human rights defenders; and a candle-light vigil to remember sex workers in Kenya who have lost their lives in the line of duty. All events are free and open to the press. The dress code for this day will be red (sex worker rights) and black (Africa).

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers aims to raise awareness of the violence and abuse perpetrated on sex workers, while remembering those who have been its victims. The goal is to see a global society where sex workers’ safety and basic human rights are protected. While this day is currently marked by over 100 cities around the world, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania will be marking this day for the first time this year.

Nairobi’s celebration will feature several prominent speakers from various organizations, touching on such related topics as human rights, sexual and reproductive health, security, law & policy reform, and the impact of the new Constitution on Kenya’s laws pertaining to sex work and human rights.

When asked to comment on her reasons for organizing this event, Dorothy Ogutu, a sex worker activist, said:

As the saying goes, sex work is the oldest profession, and yet it is the one industry that records the highest rate of violence and brutality. By marking this day, we are calling for an end to violence in a working community that has experienced and continues to experience so much of it. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere, is injustice everywhere.”

For more information, contact Dorothy Ogutu (KESWA), Peninah Mwangi (BHESP) or Zawadi Nyong’o at dec17kenya@gmail.com or 0718122270.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/69636

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

 I,S.I.S note: these are (some of) the hadithi ya the Q_t werd, of women who dare to be powerful, ase…..

My name is Kyomya Macklean and I am from Uganda. I was born in Masindi district. My father is a polygamous man with seven wives who bore him 19 children, out of which I am the first. My mother gave birth to 6 of these children, so I was blessed with 2 sisters and 3 brothers.

Although we were a very big family, when we were young, my father always made sure that he took care of us. Unfortunately, he used to mistreat my mother and I think it was because she was his first wife, so he took her for granted. He used to beat her and when he would come home with other women, he even made her spread the bed for them. This really affected me and I started hating men.

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was always a good student and remained focused on my studies. I was also a leader from a very young age. In primary school, I was a girl guide, at O-levels, I was a prefect, and in secondary school, I was the head-girl. Despite my commitment, by the time I got to Senior Four[1], there wasn’t enough money to send me to school. I was determined to complete my education, though, so I did whatever I could. That is when a friend of mine introduced me to sex work, which quickly became my source of livelihood. I was really scared at first, but with time I got used to it because I was able to earn the money I needed to pay my school fees, hostel fees, and even pay fees for my younger brothers and sisters. I also made sure I supported my dear mother so that she would not have to depend on my father. It was not easy for me when I started, but despite all the hardships I was going through, I continued to do it because I was committed to making life better for my family. This is what kept me strong whenever I was arrested, tortured by cruel clients, or suffering the bitter cold of the streets at night.

I remember my first experience very well. I had just started living in a hostel with a group of other sex workers who were showing me the ropes. This guy Richard, who worked with the Red Pepper gutter press Ugandan newspaper, used to come and visit us girls all the time, buy us drinks and just have a good time. So when he asked me if I would go with him, I decided I was ready to do it. That night, he picked me up from the hostel and took me to another hotel, but when we got there, he said he wanted to have ‘live’[2] sex with me and pay me 10,000 Ugandan shillings (5 US Dollars). When I refused to do it, he started beating me, filled the bathroom sink with water, and then pushed my head into the sink. As I was fighting back, I remember him saying to me, “I can kill you bitch! After all, you are just a slut who sells your body to earn a living.” He went ahead to say that, “Even if I killed you, nobody would judge me of murder because you are nothing but a prostitute and a kisarani.[3]”

By this point, I was screaming and fighting for my life. After a while, some people heard the screaming and came upstairs so he let go of me and got distracted. As quickly as I could, I grabbed his wallet and found his passport photograph. When he realized what I had done, he started threatening to put my story and naked pictures of me in the Red Pepper. I told him that I didn’t care and that since I also had his photo, I would report him as my client. He got scared and ashamed, and since he was more worried about his wife and family finding out, there was nothing more he could do, so he left.

When I eventually got back to the hostel, I told the other girls what had happened and everyone was furious. They all said that if he ever came back to the hostel, they would hurt him, but he never dared to. We were all so surprised though because this was someone that we had known for a long time, so none of us expected this to happen. We learned a very important lesson that day though – that we could never trust any of our clients. I also wished I had been strong enough to grab him, but I was much smaller and weaker than him, so I couldn’t fight back. That was the last time I ever saw this man, but I still have a scar on my face where the tap cut me near my eye.

I continued to do sex work, but never told any of my relatives about the kind of work I was doing. I could not even tell my mother where I was getting the money to look after myself and the family. Instead, I told her I was working at Hajji’s place, where we made a curry powder called kawomera. Unfortunately, my secret was eventually exposed when I made the mistake of going with a man who knew my dad and took it upon himself to tell him about the work I was doing. My father was extremely annoyed. He cursed me, chased me out of his home, and told me never to come back. This was in 2002 when I had just completed my Senior 4.

I decided to leave Masindi, my home district, and came to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda where I continued to do sex work for the next two years. I managed to finish my Senior 6 with the money I was getting from my job, and supported myself throughout this time. Back then, my earnings depended on the season, the areas where I would operate, and the kind of clients I was able to get. Speke Hotel was my favorite at the time, and I also liked going to Club Panther on Rubaga road and Sax pub. Some of these places are demolished now, and the competition at Speke is too high so sex is cheaper there now than it was before.

We used to charge 20,000-50,000 Ugandan shillings (10-26 US Dollars) for an hour, and 50,000-100,000 Ugandan shillings (26-53 US Dollars) for a night, depending on our negotiating power. For 15-20 minutes, we would charge 5,000-10,000 Ugandan shillings (2.5-5 US Dollars) and I would have an average of 6-8 clients per night, earning between 50,000-200,000 Ugandan shillings (26-105 US Dollars) per night. Nowadays, however, sex has become really cheap because unemployment and poverty rates are increasing, younger girls are entering the trade, the supply is higher, and sex workers are more desperate than they were before.

The highest I have ever been paid by a single client is 190,000 Ugandan shillings (100 US Dollars), which was paid by a Belgian man called Americo who I met in Club Panther where I used to strip dance. He saw me at the club one night, liked me and made an appointment for the next day. I told Americo that I didn’t know many hotels, that I was new to Kampala, and I asked him if he knew any private places where we could go to talk. The following morning we travelled to Mukono Collins hotel for the weekend, where we had a wonderful time. He was really cool and kind and he treated me really well. He gave me all this money because I was really gentle with him and I pretended I that I was new to sex work and that I was still very innocent. Because of my soft voice and tiny body, he believed everything I said, and in no time I had this man wrapped around my little finger. He even told me he had a daughter who was like me.

This is a trick I have since used with many clients. I pretend to be a young, innocent girl who has gone through a hard life and I tell my clients that I am looking for someone to take care of me. They look at me, my size, and they always want to go with me – I never get rejected because of it. I have come a long way in the industry though, and it has taken a lot for me to get to where I am now. Things were much harder when I used to work on the streets and in the strip club. Back then, my friend Peter, who was working at Grand Imperial Hotel, used to connect me to clients. Unfortunately, Peter passed away in 2008 – may his soul rest in peace. Working on the streets was the worst experience though, so I needed to find an alternative.

It was also very difficult for my family to accept that I was a sex worker. My father never forgave me and he blamed my mother for giving birth to a slut like me. He mistreated her even more than before and it broke my heart. This pushed me to save and try to find another job so that I could increase my income and do something for my mother to make her happy. While in Kampala, I got a job with the Kampala City Council where I was recommended by one of my clients who was working as the Personnel Assistant to the mayor at the time. I started to work as a fuel supervisor at Central Division in Kampala and I was being paid 200,000 Ugandan shillings (105 US Dollars) per month, which was to cover all my expenses such as food, transport and medication. Before long, my boss also took an interest in me and started making advances. He asked me out several times, and I made the mistake of going. He started buying me things and before long he was asking me for sex, but each time I made an excuse and said that I was feeling sick, or something. He was annoyed that I was not easy, and even though I was doing sex work at the time, I didn’t want to get involved with him because I had been introduced to him by my father and I didn’t want people at work to find out. It was a difficult situation, but eventually I told him. Before long, others found out and my fellow employees started talking about me and calling me names. They would call me a slut, kisarani, and worst of all, a “de-toother” or Mukuzi in Luganda which means someone who extracts money from people like a con man or woman. It was just too much for me, but after enduring a lot of abuse, I decided I had to defend myself. Men would come and abuse me and I would respond, “You are lucky you were warned before I de-toothed you!” They were shocked because I didn’t look like the kind of woman who would speak in such a bold and harsh manner. When I was at work, I dressed smart, always did what I was supposed to do, and always minded my own business, so they did not know what I was capable of.

I really tried to concentrate on the job, but I could not pay my bills and support my mother and siblings with the money I was getting, so it was impossible for me to quit sex work. I started working on the phone so my clients would just call me, make appointments, and we would meet. This is still how I conduct my business.

After several years in the trade, I realize how difficult it is to quit sex work, especially now that I have become a professional sex worker. I have learned how to negotiate for safer sex, I value my health, I know that sex work can be “work” for which I have learned to negotiate good pay, I have a positive self-esteem and I’ve learned how to save. Sex work can also be a lot of fun, but this only happens when you are your own boss, when you know what you want, know how to save, and can decide when, how, and who you want to have sex for money with. These lessons have not come easily though, and I thank all the women who I’ve shared difficult times and learning experiences with in this work.

Looking back at my experience with the man who tried to drown me in the hotel, after everything I have gone through and learned, I would react very differently. I would try to be kind to the man and get as much personal information from him as possible. I would ask him what he does, find out details about his family, and then afterwards I would go to the police and report the case. I would share the experience with the media and expose this man to shame him. With all the information I would have collected, there is no way he would be able to deny that I was with him. I also have a phone with a camera, so I would take pictures of him without his knowledge, and even record his voice for evidence. This is what I do with new clients that I don’t know and trust. I make sure that I am really nice to them while I am with them, gain their trust so that they don’t suspect anything, and get as much information as I can about them. If I’m really paranoid, sometimes I even hide my phone under the bed and leave the voice recorder on while I am working.

One of the turning points in my life was in 2002 when one of the girls in our hostel was raped by a client. The man who raped her had a special stone which he had sharpened, as sharp as a hunting knife, and he threatened to cut her neck and insert the stone into her vagina if she screamed. He raped her then he and some other men took her shoes, her bag, her money and everything else that she had. When this man left, we were all very terrified. The girl was very badly affected. She got pregnant and when her father who was an engineer found out, he chased her away from their home. We were afraid of reporting the story to the police or telling others because we were afraid of being criminalized for our sex work, so we kept the story to ourselves. The girl started getting increasingly sick, so eventually we decided to go and see a doctor and told the matron of the hostel. The matron abused us and blamed us for the rape. In the end, the girl decided to go back to her mother and grandmother in the village where she gave birth and in the process discovered she was HIV positive. She went through counseling, got saved and is now living positively with her baby.

After hearing many horrifying stories of abuse and exploitation, I decided that I wanted to help other sex workers like myself overcome these challenges. That was when I got a job with an organization which was working for sex workers in Uganda. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long because even there, I felt that we were being exploited. The boss was not representing the interests of the sex workers and he was running the whole show by himself. This one man was the director, program manager and account manager of the organization, so at the end of the day, he was the organization. Around that time, I was also invited to a pan African sex workers conference, organized by SWEAT in South Africa. For the first time in my life I was exposed to other powerful sex worker activists from all over Africa. I was really inspired when I realized that even as sex workers we actually had strength in numbers. The fire started burning inside me and I decided that I had to do something about it. I came back to Uganda with so many ideas but my boss said that we didn’t have money. I asked him if we could write proposals and raise the money but he simply said no, so my dreams were being crushed.

That was when I remembered a powerful story that one of the sex workers had shared at the conference. One night, she was picked up by a white man in a nice car who said he wanted to take her for a ride. She got in the car and they drove off. After a while, he asked her if he could touch her boobs, and she said yes. Then she said he could do whatever he wanted with her, so he continued to play with her body. This continued for a while, but then he suddenly stopped the car and told her to get out. She said he would have to pay her first because she was a sex worker. The man was shocked and said that he couldn’t pay her the 4,000 Rand she was demanding from him. By this point, she had noticed that there was a beautiful bed cover in the back seat, so she asked him if she could take it as payment for her services. The man then told her that the bed cover wasn’t his, and that she couldn’t have it. Without batting an eye-lid she responded to him, “Well, the boobs you were touching were not yours either!” She grabbed the bed cover, threatened to scream, and because the man was afraid of being embarrassed, he couldn’t do anything to stop her. I was so inspired by this story, I decided that nothing would stop me from doing what I thought was right.

I realized the man leading our organization was exploiting us, that what he was doing was wrong, and that I needed to do something about it. At the same time, those of us who had come out of the closet, because of our work, were experiencing increasing stigma and discrimination, so we decided to break off and become independent. I was also inspired by fellow sex workers from the group Sisonke in South Africa, a Kenyan sister who was a peer educator working with ICRH in Mombasa, and other sex worker activists from groups like Survivors in Busia, who I met in other networking and leadership building spaces such those organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA). I also started to interact closely and benefit from the mentorship of several people who continue to support me in my activism. People like Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe, the Executive Director of AMwA, Sylvia Tamale from the Faculty of Law in Makerere University, Mercy Berlin from New York, Devi Leiper from Sweden, Maria Nassali the Executive Director of FIDA-Uganda, Eric Harper the Director of SWEAT, and Hope Chigudu were amongst the people who were instrumental in my activist journey.

All this support made it possible for us to form the Women’s Organization Network for Human Right Advocacy (WONETHA) in 2008. WONETHA is a sex worker led organization established by three passionate and determined sexworkers who have faced harassment, insults, stigma, discrimination, and arrest without trial. We have been stirred into responsive action to address the plight of other sexworkers in the same working environment. Our vision is to have, ‘‘A legal adult sex work industry in Uganda, to improve our living and working conditions and to fight for equal access to rights so that sex workers’ human rights are defended and protected.”

I still do sex work but I am able to operate with just a few clients. I have one steady client that I have had for almost two years now. He used to work in the private sector, and is now a manager of another company. The first time we met, though, he thought I was a good girl, so he asked me out. That night he wanted to have sex with me, but when I told him that I only had sex for money, he was totally shocked. He didn’t believe what I was telling him, but I told him it was true and asked him if we could negotiate a price. He said that he couldn’t do it, and that no woman had ever said anything like this to him. He looked at me and said, “Other women would hide it, but how can you be so straight and direct about it?” I told him, “That is how I make a living and I am not ashamed of it.” We left it at that, but since we had exchanged telephone numbers, he later called me, we became friends, and he eventually became one of my clients. I guess he could do it in the end.

I am able to stand tall and proud as a professional sex worker, an activist, and a human rights defender because I believe in myself and I don’t let anyone put me down or let anyone take away my joy. I think being small in size made me this way. People look at me and expect me to be humble – they don’t expect me to be strong. When I speak in public, some people even say that I am not Ugandan, or that I am paid to say the things I do. I speak out without fear and ask others to respect sex workers just like they do other professionals. I believe in myself and I am proud of what I have managed to achieve in my life as a sex worker. I always say that “if you feel uncomfortable being with me or near me then that is your problem.”

I have managed to stand against the insults, stigma and discrimination and I have turned a deaf ear to what people say about me. I used to cry before, but now I mind on my own affairs. Whenever I make presentations or do media advocacy, for example, people ask me all kinds of stupid questions. One of the most popular questions is, “How many men have you had sex with?” This question used to bother me, but now I just tell them, “I can’t really tell, but roughly I would estimate about three full Fuso[4]’s with a few more men running after them and trying to squeeze in!” When a Fuso truck gets full like a matatu in Nairobi, people still run after it even when it is at maximum capacity. So I tell them that I am like a Fuso, with hundreds of men running after me even when I have no space or time for them. These are the kinds of responses I am forced to give men who ask me silly questions just to piss me off. I mean, if I have already told them that I started doing sex work 10 years ago, “how the hell would I know how many men I have had sex with?” One time, I was even asked who my clients were. We were having a session in parliament so I told them that my clients included MP’s, and that some of them were even there that day. Everyone went quiet and nobody dared to ask me any more questions.

My dream is to see all sex workers come out of the closet and join the struggle to claim our human rights. I would also like to have sex work be legally recognized as work. In the meantime, this is what I advise other sex workers:

“Go for regular health check-ups, always have safe sex, seek justice when tortured, learn how to save and invest, and learn when to take leave and when to work.”

In WONETHA we always say, “Work wise and always be prepared before you go to work.”

Despite life’s pressures, I always try take time off to relax and restore myself. I swim, go out with friends, and spend quality time with my fellow sex workers who are my primary support system. I also love reading, listening to country and slow music, and once in a while I go for a walk in the forest, or spend some time at the beach.

When people tell me I should get ‘saved’ I tell them that I am saved and that I also want to save others. If I was a ‘good woman’ how would I interact with all the ‘bad women’? You can only help others if you are able to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their situation. I also tell people that sex work is not all bad, and that it is the environment which makes it difficult for us, and which makes society look at it negatively. It is a job that we do by choice to earn a living like any other professional, though the level and nature of choice varies with each individual. I really believe that sex work should be compared to the legal profession. People say lawyers are thieves because they use lies to win cases, sometimes even convicting the poor or the innocent. This analysis is not 100% right, but people are still being trained to become professional lawyers. So why can’t we be allowed to become professional sex workers, even if some people may not agree entirely with what we do?

What is important to me as a sex worker is to have faith. If I believe there that is a Creator, then I think I am already ‘saved’ and I don’t need any man to bless or judge me. It is the Creator’s responsibility to decide whether I am evil or not. No man has the right to judge another man. I also believe that what I do with my body for a living has nothing to do with my faith. After all, “my body is my business.” All I need to do is look after myself, make sure I have the right skills to do my job well, continuously build my self esteem, and fight for my freedom and respect in society.

I identify as a Christian so I go to church and pray for protection and ask God to send me rich and kind clients who can pay me well so that I can save, invest and plan for my future and my retirement. Unfortunately, the church is not always a safe place for sex workers like me. When I go to church and the pastor asks for money for different development projects, for example, I give what I can to support the causes that move me. When we make our contributions, you hear the pastor saying, “In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, I bless you!” So I take this to mean that his is blessing the work that provides me with the money to support myself and others. After all, even Jesus Christ was an activist. But then in these are the same people who abuse us when they find out what we do for a living. I think this is extremely hypocritical.

source (http://africansexworkeralliance.org/stories/%E2%80%9Cwhen-i-dare-be-powerful%E2%80%A6)

I,S.I.S note: and in other parts of the world, Bredrin And Dadas In Solidarity, also took mo’ public action and dared to be powerful….stories like these make me so happy…..I give thanks for all the warriors spreading love, hope and positivity in abundance

Justice Ministers’ Strategy Ignores Violence Against Sex Workers
Open letter calls for action from Canada’s governments

VANCOUVER, December 17, 2010 -On the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex worker groups and supporters have issued an open letter calling on Canada’s Justice Ministers to include Canadian sex workers in their national strategy on missing and murdered women.

“We are completely stunned that our governments have ignored violence against sex workers in their long-awaited national strategy,” says Susan Davis, Coordinator of the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities.”

The letter demands that governments immediately initiate discussions with Canadian sex worker organizations to address sex workers’ urgent and critical needs for safety and protection on the local, provincial, and national level.

Davis pointed to the tri-lateral governments’ research report on missing and murdered women that was commissioned in 2006 to consider: “the effective identification, investigation and prosecution of cases involving serial killers who target persons living a high risk lifestyle, including but not limited to the sex trade.” Subsequently, the report authors were told to consider: “particular concerns related to missing Aboriginal women.”

The report’s 52 recommendations are the foundation for the national strategy that governments announced in mid-October, but not a single recommendation addresses the prevention of violence against sex workers. Later in October, the federal government announced $10 million in national strategy funding, but not a single dollar was allocated to sex worker safety needs.

The necessity to deal with violence against sex workers was overwhelmingly brought home by the Missing Women’s Case, which concerns the murders of’ 65 women sex industry workers in Vancouver during the 1990s. The Open Letter notes thatthe criminal justice system has made few, if any, changes to protect women and youth from the violence, sexual predation and murder prevalent in the street-based sex industry.

“We know that the physical and sexual violence faced by women in the sex industry is not isolated to major urban centres, says Esther Shannon, a member of FIRST, the national feminist coalition that support sex worker rights. It happens in all Canadian communities, including rural communities, and this isespecially true for street-based sex workers who experience exponentially high rates of violence.”

While critical of sex worker exclusion from the governments’ plans, the groups are fully in support of the resources the strategy will provide for Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women and First Nations communities. The Open Letter also strongly calls for renewed funding to the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Sisters in Spirit initiative.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers, as well as to the critical need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by customs and laws that have made violence against sex-workers acceptable. The red umbrella, adopted in 2002 by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march, symbolizes resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.

Signatories to the Open Letter:

BC Coalition of Experiential Communities

Exotic Dancers for Cancer

FIRST Decriminalize Sex Work

Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women

HUSTLE: Men on the Move

The Naked Truth Entertainment

PACE Providing Alternatives Counseling & Education Society

PEERS Vancouver

Pivot Legal Society

POWER Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist

Stepping Stone, Halifax

West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals

WISH Drop-in Centre Society

 

ase, ase……

(Painfully copy and pasted because I knew Moya would appreciate it.)

Black women are having a moment. In fact, we had several in 2010—not always positive (think Proenza Schouler’s “Act Da Fool” short and Gabourey Sidibe’s subpar ELLE cover), but almost always insightful (Sesame Street’s “I Love My Hair” video).

Whether it left us shaking our heads in disdain or nodding in agreement, we, without a doubt, had some much-needed discussion (e.g., Madame Noire’s “8 Reasons to Date a White Man” article and Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls”) and mobilized in ways that we hadn’t for years (from Philly-based designer Shavonne Deann staging a guerrilla runway show, to the “Fashion In Action!” march in protest of the lack of Black fashion directors in the magazine industry—both during fashion week). It’s up to each and every one of us to keep the momentum going right into the next year … and beyond.

Here at CLUTCH, we’re issuing a public declaration of our rights, demands, and just shit we will not stand for anymore.

  • * We will tell our own stories. There is just something to be said about Black women directing movies about Black women or Black women conducting studies about our own struggles. Perhaps it’s authenticity. Instead of complaining when we see distorted representations of our experiences, we vow to seek positions of power and/or find ways to support other Black women to do so, so that we can write our own narratives—not men, not Whites, not anyone else.
  • * We will not rely on the Internet (or any other form of media) to be our relationship mediator. One of the main reasons that the viral videos and special news reports on the state of Black relationships hit such a nerve is not because they perpetuated stereotypes we already knew existed, but because we weren’t already having these conversations openly, honestly and constructively with one another (i.e., men with women).
  •  * We will feel safe in our neighborhoods. When did it become acceptable for us to be afraid to walk home after dark? When did we become naturalized to the random acts of violence committed against us each day? It is not okay. And we will no longer let another catcall or invasion of our personal space go unaddressed—whether it’s speaking up to the perpetrator or alerting the nearby authorities. 
  •  * We will remember that we are human. Contrary to popular belief, we are not the mules of the world. We are not superhuman. We will allow our selves to hurt, so long as we allow ourselves to heal.
  •  * We will whip our hair. No matter if it’s long, short, permed, natural, or weaved, we will nurture what’s underneath. We will not pit women against each other because of our hair preferences. Hair is like religion. We each have our own rituals. We vow to respect each other’s rituals.
  •  * We will open our minds and hearts to love. We will embrace the possibility of finding a mate who is outside of our race, income bracket or height range. We will remember that these attributes are not measures of one’s character or compatibility.
  • * We will love ourselves and each other. We pledge to speak positivity into our lives and the lives of others. We will mentor other Black women and uplift them. We promise to acknowledge other women with a smile or a simple “hello” … and mean it. Sisterhood is essential for our survival.

(Source: clutchmagonline.com)

I,sista in solidarity note: ‘virtual’ communities of practice are going ‘viral’ with resistance, renewal and positivity….

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32 
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back
after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

-Gil Scott-Heron, 1971

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