February 2011

four seasons

Hadithi? Hadithi?

Hadithi njoo, uongo njoo, utamu kolea.

Pale zamani za kale palitokea…..



ONCE upon a time the King of Uganda went to Koja to see his herd of cows, and while he was there a strange thing happened.

The people near Mount Elgon saw a white patch high up on the mountain, and they said: “It is snow.” But the patch moved down the  mountain side, and they said: “It is a cloud.” But still it moved on, and when it reached the foot-hills they saw that it was a flight of snow-white birds.

No one had ever seen such birds before; they flew on over the plain towards the Lake, right across the Great Lion River, which is really a country all to itself.

People lived in the river on little islands made of reeds and papyrus, one house on each island and a canoe tied up near the door, and they have no roads; the river is their only road when they go to the banks to buy and sell.

They have their own customs and their own language. The birds did not stop on the river islands; they flew right over into Busoga till they came to the Nile, and then they crossed the Nile and flew right over the forests and hills of Kyagwe till they came to Koja, where the King was, and they settled down on the herd of cows.

All the people marvelled to see these snow-white birds, and the King said: “This is a good omen; something fortunate will happen to the country.” Then he went back to the capital and the Katikiro met him and said: “A stranger has arrived in the country; he is different from any man we have ever seen, and he has a little child with him.”

The King commanded them to bring the stranger before him, and when he came he asked him questions, but he knew no language that the chiefs knew, only a few words of Swahili, which were no use.

At first the people thought he ought to be killed, for they said: “He is different from any man we have ever seen; perhaps he  is a spy sent to prepare the way for some enemy who will eat up our country.”

But the King remembered the white birds and said: “I will not kill him; he will bring good fortune to the country.”

Then he called an old chief whom he loved and trusted and said: “Take away this man, and take care of him and his child; teach him Luganda and our customs; some day he will bring us good fortune.”

So the old chief took the stranger to his home and gave him a house to live in and a garden, and boys to wait on him, and an old woman to take care of the child, for she was a little girl, and every day he taught him Luganda, and they became great friends, and at last he was able to speak, and the chief took him to the King.

Then the King asked him many questions about his country and his people, and what his name was, but when he said it no man could pronounce it, it was too difficult.

And every day the King called him, and the people all knew that the stranger was the King’s friend, and they called him “Mugenyi,” which means “Stranger,” because they could not pronounce his name.

The little girl grew up different from all the other children in Uganda. She had long golden hair and blue eyes, and a skin like milk, and she grew strong and big, and the people loved her and called her “Joy” or “Snowbird”; but her father said: “Her name is Sorrow.”

After some time the King heard that a great army was marching against his country, and he collected his soldiers and made his chiefs generals over them, and prepared to march to Budu, where the enemy was advancing.

Then Stranger said: “I will go with you and teach the chiefs how to build a great fort, and we will stop the enemies of the King from crossing the border.”

So the King gave him the command of the army, and they marched to Budu and built a great fort and drove back the

enemy and killed thousands of warriors, and when those who were left saw Stranger commanding the Baganda they were afraid, for he wore strange clothes made of barkcloth, and they said: “He is a wizard; we cannot fight against him.”

So the enemy was utterly beaten, and the Baganda went back to their homes victorious.

Then the King was much pleased and gave Stranger many presents and cows, and the old chief loved him more and more, and they swore the oath of friendship, which is the most sacred oath in the world.

As the years went on the old chief noticed that his friend looked sorrowful and sad, and that he sat alone on the hill-side looking over the Great Lake, with only little Sorrow near him, and that he often looked at the child with eyes that were full of tears, and one day he said to him:

“My brother, I am grieved to see you so changed. Cannot you tell your sorrow to me, your great friend?” And Stranger said:

“Come away with me to the hill-side and I will tell you.”

So the two friends and little Sorrow set out at sunset, and when they reached a shady spot on the hill-side overlooking the Great Lake they sat down, and the child chased butterflies and picked flowers round them.

For a long time they were silent, and then Stranger spoke: “I came to you a stranger, full of sorrow, and you made me welcome, and I learnt your language and your customs, and your country became my country, and I never meant to leave Uganda, but now I look at my little child and I know that I was wrong; I must return to my own people, for a girl must be brought up by the women of her father’s tribe.”

Then he told the old chief who he was and all his history, and the old man listened silently, for though he had often wondered, all these years, he had never asked questions.

Little Sorrow came and sat on her father’s knee, and soon she fell asleep, and the moon rose over the lake, and the stars twinkled in the dark sky, and still the two friends sat on the hill-side while Stranger poured out his history.

And the old chief said: “You are right; a girl must be brought up by the women of her father’s tribe.” The next day they went to the King, and told him Stranger’s decision, and the King was very sorrowful and said to the old chief: “Is it well?” And he answered: “It is well.”

All the chiefs and people were very sorry when they heard that Stranger was going, and brought them many presents, and Sorrow said good-bye to all her friends, and the old chief saw them safely across the borders of Uganda. And when he returned to the capital he found everyone talking of Stranger and the little girl, and telling each other about them, and wondering who they really were and where their country and home really was; but the old chief alone was silent, for he alone knew the real history of Stranger and the secret of his life, and sometimes in the evening he would climb the hill-side and sit where he had sat with his friend, and the tears would roll down his cheeks, for he knew that he would never see him again.

And if you go to the province of Budu you will see the fort which Stranger helped the King to build, for the ruins are still there, and the  snowbirds never left Uganda, you will always see them with the cows; but if you ask about little “Joy,” whom her father called Sorrow, the people will shake their heads and say: “Perhaps there was a little girl, perhaps it was a spirit, perhaps it was only a snowbird–who knows?”

Only the old chief ever knew who Stranger really was, and a Muganda will never betray the secret of his friend.

[reposted from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/baskerville/king/king.html#XXI]

A special thank you to Sokari Ekine at Black Looks for organising this statement.

“We the undersigned wish to express our deep sadness at the murder of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato on 26th January 2011.  David’s activism began in the 1980s as an Anti-Apartheid campaigner where he first expressed a strong passion and conviction for freedom and justice which continued throughout his life.   David was a founding member of Sexual Minorities Uganda where he first served as Board member and until his death as Litigation and Advocacy Officer and he was also a member of Integrity Uganda, a faith-based advocacy organization.

David was a man of vision and courage. One of his major concerns was the growth of religious fundamentalism in Uganda and across the continent and how this would impact on the rights of ordinary citizens including lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered / Gender Non-Conforming and Intersex  [LGBTIQ] persons.   Years later his concerns were justified when the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill backed by religious fundamentalists was outlined in 2009.  David was also an extremely brave man who had been imprisoned and beaten severely because of his sexual orientation and for speaking publicly against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Many African political and religious leaders in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Gambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi and Botswana, have publicly maligned LGBTIQ people and in some cases directly incited violence against them whilst labeling sexual minorities as “unAfrican”.

In October 2010, the Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone published the names and photographs of “100 Top homos” including David Kato.   David along with two other LGBTIQ activists successfully sued the magazine on the grounds of “invasion of privacy” and most importantly,  the  judge ruled that the publication would threaten and endanger the lives of LGBTIQ persons.

The court did not only rule that the publication would threaten and endanger the lives of LGBTIQ persons but it issued a permanent injunction against Rolling Stone newspaper never to publish photos of gays in Uganda, and also never to again publish their home addresses.

Justice Kibuuka Musoke ruled that,

“Gays are also entitled to their rights. This court has found that there was infringement of some people’s confidential rights. The court hereby issues an injunction restraining Rolling Stone newspaper from future publishing of identifications of homosexuals.”

Every human being is protected under the African Charter of Peoples and Human Rights and this includes the rights of LGBTIQ persons.   We ask the governments of Uganda and other African countries to stop criminalizing people on the grounds of sexual orientation  and afford LGBTIQ people the same protections, freedoms and dignity, as other citizens on the continent.”

Anengiyefa Alagoa,                           Things I Feel Strongly About

Anthony Hebblethwaite                    African Activist

Barbra Jolie,                                     Me I Think

Ben Amunwa,                                   Remember Ken Saro-Wiwa

Bunmi Oloruntoba,                           A Bombastic Element

Chris Ogunlowo,                              Aloofaa

Eccentric Yoruba,                             Eccentric Yoruba

Exiled Soul                                       ExiledSoul

Francisca Bagulho and Marta Lança,         Buala

Funmilayo Akinosi,                          Finding My Path

Funmi Feyide,                                   Nigerian Curiosity

Gay Uganda,                                     Gay Uganda

Glenna Gordon,                                Scarlett Lion

Godwyns Onwuchekwa,                My Person

Jeremy Weate,                                   Naija Blog

Kayode Ogundamisi                         Canary Bird

Kadija Patel                                          Thoughtleader

Keguro Macharia,                             Gukira

Kenne Mwikya,                                 Kenne’s Blog

Kinsi Abdullah                                  Kudu Arts

Laura Seay,                                       Texas in Africa

Llanor Alleyne                                  Llanor Alleyne

Mark Jordahl,                                   Wild Thoughts from Uganda

Matt Temple                                     Matsuli Music

Mia Nikasimo,                                  MiaScript

Minna Salami,                                  MsAfropolitan

Mshairi,                                               Mshairi

Molisa Nyakale                                 Molisa Nyakale

Ndesanjo Macha                               Global Voices

Nyokabi Musila,                               Sci-Cultura.

Nzesylva,                                          Nzesylva’s Blog

Olumide Abimbola,                           Loomnie

Ory Okolloh,                                     Kenyan Pundit

Pamela Braide,                                  pdbraide

Peter Alegi,                                                 Football is Coming Home

Rethabile Masilo,                                        Poefrika

Saratu Abiola,                                   Method to Madness

Sean Jacobs,                                     Africa is a Country

Sokari Ekine,                                    Black Looks

Sonja Uwimana,                               Africa is a Country

Spectra Speaks,                                Spectra Speaks

TMS Ruge,                                        Project Diaspora

Toyin Ajao                                        StandTall

Tosin Otitoju,                                   Lifelib

Val Kalende,                                     Val Kalende

Zackie Achmat,                                 Writing Rights

Zion Moyo,                                          Sky, Soil and Everything in Between

[ i,S.I.S intro: Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo! Giza ya?  Nilienda Harare, Jinja, Kakamega, Kampala, Kimilili na Webuye, hapo (pamoja na) Bredrin en dadas in solidarity: tunajenga nyumba, tunalima, tunamshukuru mungu [na tunapokula na watoto] wetu, wazee hutusimulia hadithi ya moyo wa afrika…..

Hadithi? Hadithi? Check dis’ ‘Bukusu’ narratives reposted from the Lumboka Star]

By Prof. Julius Wangila Mukhwana. Australia.

Babandu befwe balomanga bali “Buli selukhoo, Namwenya kwayo.”

Sekali kario bana befwe, namwe mukhaulilakho murio? Bemu Tolondo ye Lumboka, mwama khuloma kamakali khu Bakhupi-etungu ewefwe eyo, ne khukhwoola e Buluhya, baiba bakali busa buli eselukho yinyokha.

Mwateka mwakanakana khuima engila ekhola kimienya kiefwe kibeho khubuli selekho yichaayo erekeresia nio nayo emanya kakabaho khaale namwe mataayi aho. Sindu ngesio sibaho, andi kimienya kiekamatungu nikio babefwe bapanga nebakhina kamabeka, ne basuna singorio, ne betikita, nebafumia nicho babaya, namwe nebakhebulila nibo beraana nabo bakwaa mububukoo, andi kimienya ekio kisiliho. Muchuba muhenje chingila nga mwakachula. Liakila naboola ndi mukhebusie kakandi khubakhupi e-tungu babandi nelisubila mbo semundolela bubi tawe.

Nga mwabakhebulila, sebali “Waske Musungu ne Nyongesa Mukanda, Fwoti, nende Laisa bong’eene ta.” Mwebilila Omulagu Chelobani khurura e Cheputais namwe khane e Wamono. Mumukhebulila? Owamwekesia khukhupa e guitar naye kaba Laisa. Khuli ne kimienya kimikali kisomesia buli mundu ne khukhilaho kili kia marehemu Wasike Musungu. Lundi kilimo bifuno.

Usually the music reflects, at times, the social concerns, politics, and developments of the artist’s society including his/her/hir own life experiences. May I furnish you with some more information on what you provided concerning the following:

Omuliuli Laisa bewa Temba, kumwenya kwewe mbo “E-Bung’oma mu Spinning” was based on the Government promotion of home craft and women education in our district that was (first North Nyanza and later Elgon Nyanza)……

In various villages during 1950’s – 1960’s and location centres at that time, women congregated and were urged to attend regularly to sew

table clothes, crotchet, make their own dresses and sweaters, cooking, etc. Those who performed better went on for upgrading at Bungoma Homecraft Centre. From there they were selected to attend the Kenya Institute of Administration at Kabete.

Ne wekesia Laisa khukhupa e guitar kaba wandaaye William khwa Ben Maka. He had a big head as someone said. But he was not 5ft 4ins as reported in Lumboka.

He was nearly my height 5ft 9ins. Nomwene kaba omwiwana Musonge, khu Basonge be Wachipo. Semwalomakho Masinde Nalobile tawe, namwe abundi mwaloma nebilile. Nayee khukhwama e Makheele, Kamusinga Anglican Church.

Ali omusoreri wembeelanga babandu kumwenya mbo “Omukhana Sarah Khatioli.” Nomwene kafwa lulumbe nilwo balanganga Kimilili bali “Nylon.”

It was, perhaps a precursor to what today our people everywhere call “Bwembeo.”

Ne okundi niye mwebilila kaba Peter Wekhomba Mwangale. Naaye kemba kumwenya mbo “Bayinda be Kimilili” when he was a student in Uganda. Wamwikisia khukhupa e guitar kaba wandaaye omukhulu Absalom Wekhomba Omukinyikeu wa 44. Omuloosi wamwibula niye waba omukhulu.

Peter’s song soured relationship between him and his father. The father felt that as a staunch Quaker, he had been shamed by the son for playing a guitar recording a song in tribute to him and others as farmers. Many Christian families or parents felt the same at that time e.g. Mwinamo’s father in Liranda in Isukha, disowned him for same reason.

However, Masinde Nalobile, Laisa ne Peter Wekhomba baba Babanyange 1950 – 1948.

In that category of their music, there was another remarkable artist at the Coast, called Fadhili Williams. He sang the original “Malaika Nakupenda, malaika…..”

Another very famous artist was Omutachoni Lusamoya from Ndivisi. Kumwenya kwewe nikwo babandu bakhiina for a long time was “Munandi.” It was the equivalentof “Bumping.”

Okundi kaba Lutubula from the same place. Naye kapanga “Limoyi”. But Omukananachi Kilikinji owe bawa Matere wa Lumonya khurura e Kamukuywa, naye oyo kapanga sinanda sichanula (the cordion) nende syekhumunwa (the harmonica). Yaba naaye kimienya kiewe kiaba bali “Ekorasi” ye Lulumbuchu (the waltz).

The reason for this was the second world war influence. Our people who were conscripted into the army (King’s African Regiment) to serve in this war as pioneers (Panyako) brought back memories of the music they experienced being danced to by the British soldiers. Related to this, the squatters on European farms across Kamukuywa river and the music they played and danced to imitating their masters, was Waltz. The returned soldiers with their squeaky boots-on danced waltz.

Hence, the common saying in Bukusu that “Yaba neba kenda, biraro bilomaa busa bili miaa, khamusini, miaa khamusini.”

So omusakhulu Kilikinji mirrored that generation’s music. It’s popularity among the Bakananachi to Bakinyikeu caused Kilikinji to continue playing even for Babanyange generation. I listened and danced to a few of his live music performances at one of the Kimilili location festival events during 1950 – 1956. These events or functions used to feature older artists like Kilikinji and younger artists like Laisa and Masinde Nalobile.

The promoter of such social activities was a community social worker, my cousin, Emanuel Nabwana under the direction of Major Ryland, a British colonial Community Development Officer from Kakamega. He taped the artists’ music. A nationally well known musician of Kilikinji’s generation in Kenya, was Paul Mwachupa, from the Coast. He sang “Simba Matata, and Simba..” in 1940’s and 1950’s. He died three to four years ago aged in late 80’s.

Before the generation of Bakananachi, a very notable artist was my grand father, Omukolongolo Munyatibu Machio Silenge, “Wapanga Litungu.” Almost no Mukananachi and Mukikwameti in Bukusu would say that they never heard of him.

It is said by our clans men that he started playing “Litungu” (the harp) at the age of 10. He was the only one in Bukusu who played an eleven stringed harp. In his adolescent years, Nabongo Mumia (King Mumia) had him play before him and his visitors. From then onwards, they said, Kuka Machio regularly entertained mainly “Nabongo Mumia and his royal family members at Elureko (the present Mumias). Sometimes his father Silenge Mukhasokho would refuse his adolescent son to travel that far to delight the king with his talented blend of music. This would annoy the king and cause him to order that the boy music artist be brought to play.

When he was initiated into manhood through circumcision in 1906, Machio was ordered by the king to live near-by so he could entertain the king’s family and visitors daily within a short notice. He was given a farm at e-Matungu (that is now under the current Mumias sugar cane plantation).

The mosquitoes became a nuisance for him. So in 1912, he settled at Kibisi and Bituyu (the present Bewa Silenge and Nebolola) in Kibingei and Kimilili locations.

Kibisi was considered close to Shibachi’s settlement in Teremi, and Bituyu was close enough to Waluchio’s and Murunga’s homesteads in Kimilili since they were the rulers (kind of governors representing Nabongo Mumia) in that part of Bukusu. From this base, he moved around with other royal family members playing his music. He entertained mostly Murunga and Waluchio and their families.

These were the princes, the king’s brothers who had established their rule over Babukusu in the East with Kimilili town as their headquaters. Machio’s music was inspirational and informative. Thus far, uncle Pascal Nabwana told me one evening in 1962 before we left for Gatundu the following morning. He was to visit his old friend, who had been released from detention and restriction and was now relaxing at home among his people. That was the future Prime Minister and President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta.

Pascal Nabwana told me, “Papa, oli kukao Machio karakikha khukhupa litungu, naye we chimbeengele afundeela, kukao embaa ali “Nikhaala ne mubolela ndi silibaao, nanywe muli ta. Khubolela mwana Shihundu, Basoreri enjeeyi balikho bakhaaba. Ewe lilaakho elala. Nyanga niyo Babukusu balikhu-kalukhaanakho, olindeeba, Naluliingo….”

After Machio repeated the chorus twice, and as he started the third one, Waluchio stopped him. Pascal said that he would have struck Machio’s harp down breaking it, had it not been for Murunga’s intervention. The overall senior chief/ruker grabbed Waluchio and told him, “Lekha omwana wa Silenge embee kumwenya kwewe. Enywe rekeresia niko kumwenya kuboola.”

According to uncle Pascal’s narrative, Machio finished his song. Then played three more that evening before Murunga and his royal family members retired to sleep. He also ordered Machio to go and rest, presumably to sleep, too. In those days, Babukusu were organising themselves to rebel and overthrow the Bawanga rule and dominance over them. Within six months, Pascal explained, Bukusu delegation went to Kakamega to petition the Colonial Administrator. They demanded that a ruler be selected from their own Babukusu tribes men.

The name they put forward, as a possible candidate, was rejected by the colonial authority. They wanted someone literate and conversant with government affairs. The delegates then argued that if that was what was required, they proposed Omukolongolo Namutala Mayeku. He was then a young man working as an office messanger and Kiswahili interpreter in the Colonial Administrator’s office in Kakamega. Murunga and Waluchio returned to Elureko as Namutala was installed the Chief of Kimilili. After that Gatundu visit, I went home at Kibingei towards the end of the month. I told my father about our visit and above all, the story that was narrated to me by uncle Pascal Nabwana. Arising from my father’s confirmation of it, I realised how instrumental my grandfather had been in the struggle to overthrow the Bawanga dominance and rule through his music.

It made sense then why each time adults inquired of who I was when I was growing up, and I said son of “Henry Mukhwana Machio.” Then the usual statement that came back as a reply was, “Khaane ewe Omwichukhulu wa Machio Silenge, owapangaa Litungu.” Trust me, I tried to access Machio’s music tapes and failed.

I would, therefore, appreciate immensely, if any of you guys in Lumboka, have accessed or know how to uncover such music that colonialists taped and never showed to our music artists of the generations of yesterday [and even still today…..]

posted by The LUMBOKA Star @ Monday, December 13, 2004

Not in our name…….

Read the latest statement from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on the case of Munyaradzi Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo and 43 other Zimbabweans who have been charged with treason:

Gwisai bemoans torture as Muchadehama challenges placement of activists on remand

Detained social justice activist Munyaradzi Gwisai on Thursday 24 February 2011 lamented the torture sessions to which suspects are subjected by state security agents as tragic and inexpressible.

Gwisai, who testified before Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi during an application for refusal of placement on remand for the 45 human rights activists filed by defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama disclosed in court that he, together with other activists, were subjected to torture sessions during their detention by the police at Harare Central Police Station.

Gwisai said the torture sessions were aimed at securing confessions from the activists which would implicate them in the commission of treason, a charge which they are facing in court.

In narrating his ordeal, Gwisai said he was tortured together with five other detainees in a room in the basement at Harare Central Police Station by nine state security agents who included some police officers who had arrested them.

During the torture sessions, which were recorded on video, the detainees were asked to recount what had transpired during their meeting which was held on Saturday 19 February 2011 in central Harare.

Gwisai said each of the six detainees received a series of lashes which were administered while they lay down on their stomachs. He added that he received between 15 and 20 lashes as the police and his tormentors sought to obtain confessions from him and the other detainees.

Gwisai said the pain which he endured and suffered as a result of the torture sessions was “indescribable, sadistic and a tragedy for Zimbabwe”.

The University of Zimbabwe labour law lecturer said it was extremely difficult for him to sit and walk because of the torture sessions he underwent together with other detainees.

Gwisai said the meeting held on Saturday was held to discuss ISO business and issues of democracy and constitutionalism and not to plot the toppling of the government as alleged by the police and prosecutors. He added that the meeting which was attended by HIV/AIDS activists was also meant to commemorate the life of a deceased HIV and AIDS activist, Navigator Mungoni.

Earlier on Muchadehama outlined the detainees’ complaints against the police.

The detainees’ lawyer said the arrest of his clients was unlawful as they were not advised of the reason/s for their arrest. He also advised that they were over-detained in filthy and stinking police cells. He said the detainees only knew of the treason charge when they finally appeared in court on Wednesday 23 February 2011 and no warned and cautioned statements were recorded in relation to the treason charge.

Muchadehama told the court that the police extensively subjected his clients to severe interrogation sessions where they attempted to coax some of the detainees to turn against their colleagues and be considered State witnesses.

He said some of the detainees were assaulted, brutalised and tortured while in police custody. The defence lawyer said the torture sessions were administered through assaults all over the detainees’ bodies, under their feet and buttocks through the use of broomsticks, metal rods, pieces of timber, open palms and some blunt objects.

In his application for refusal of remand Muchadehama argued that the facts as outlined by the State did not constitute the commission of an offence.

The matter continues on Monday 28 February 2011 when prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba, who applied for the placement of the detainees on remand, cross examines Gwisai. In the meantime, all 45 will remain incarcerated in remand prison in Harare and at Chikurubi Women’s Prison for the women detainees.

Source:  http://www.kubatanablogs.net/kubatana/

[ Reposted with overflowing love, respekt en in solidarity with our freedom fighters, healers, peacemakers and youth coming into their right destinies…..In a ‘blog/post-a-day’/series exploring quests of self-en-collective discovery of the powah! of harvesting the intersections of our diversity….

Our basic inquiry: What do we benefit from (wholly) pursuing the vision(s) of ‘a’ United States of Afrika?  And what is it about revolushuns and the urgencies of injustice in ripple effects?

In how many countries not only in North Africa and the Middle East, but all ova di world, will it take protests of indigenus massives not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of darkness to spread the spirit of hope, positivity, truth, justice and love in abundance and institute democracies? ]

(creative writing in memory of Grace Mera Molisa – by briar wood)

In this season of vegetables, the year you left us behind

The Second Melanesian Festival swells Vila

from vanuatu back to mama afrika

Black Brothers sing to wantok women

in the solid dark at Independence Park

a fourteen-man string band and one green guitar

rocking everybody at the gallery opening.


Between broken English and beginner’s Bislama

I explain to people of the ples I am studying your poetry –

but some hear pottery and give me directions

to the Kaljoral Senta where I admire

red mats of Ambae, dyed, matanaho,

precise, incised fragments of Lapita

black stone publishing

and join the large group gathering to watch

women  from  Wusi, Espiritu Santo

who have been working in secret all week

shaping layers from volcanic black sand,

applying designs – waves, fishbones,

pikinini fingers gripping the carefully shaped lips

putting on a red slip, sprinkling with seawater

the firmed earthenware exterior turned upside down

as the bundles of fronds and branches

piled high on a platform of hot river rocks

burns, flaring up with a flourish

in a process usually performed at dawn.

So your poetry has come through

that blaze of themes, critiques and dreams,

tempered words, fused to a brilliant black

and packed with your country’s colours –

graceful containers, holding the future’s truth.

Your poetry inspires,the pots are firing.

[excerpts from one of her poems – Co-operation]

We need each other
You need me. I need you.
Impossible to love so easy to hate!
It does matter that at least we try.
We play our role. We do our share.
Co-operation. On every level. Any level.

Sungbo’s Eredo: Nigeria’s hidden wonder

The largest historical monument in the world


The eredo’s earth walls protect a powerful and ancient kingdom

Sungbo’s Eredo is a rampart or system of walls and ditches that surrounds the Yoruba town of Ijebu-Ode in Ogun state southwest Nigeria (6°49′N, 3°56′E). It is reputed to be the largest single pre-colonial monument in Africa.

As a construction project, it required more earth to be moved than the Great Pyramid of Giza. More than 100 miles (160 kilometers) in circumference with some sections having walls which reach 70 feet (20 meters) in height, it encloses an area 25 miles (40 km) north to south and 22 miles (35 km) east to west. The Eredo served a defensive purpose when it was built in 1000 C.E., a period of political confrontation and consolidation in the southern Nigerian rain forest. It was likely to have been inspired by the same process that led to the construction of similar walls and ditches throughout western Nigeria, including earthworks around Ile-IfeIlesa, and the Benin Iya, a 6,500 kilometer series of connected but separate earthworks in the neighboring Edo-speaking region.

Sungbo’s Eredo has also been connected with the legend of the Queen of Sheba which is recounted in both the Bible and Koran. In the Old Testament, she is described as having sent a caravan of gold, ivory and other goods from her kingdom to King Solomon.

In the Koran she is an Ethiopian sun worshiper named Bilqis involved in the incense trade who converts to Islam. Local legends link the Eredo to a wealthy childless widow named Bilikisu Sungbo. According to them, the monument was built as her personal memorial. Her actual grave is located in Oke-Eiri, a town in a Muslim area north of the Eredo. Pilgrims of Christian, Muslim and traditional African religions annually trek to the holy site in tribute to her. It is believed that the Eredo was the means to unifying an area of diverse communities into a single kingdom. This is one million cubic meters more than the amount of rock and earth used in the Great Pyramid at Giza.

The wall marks out what the believed boundary of the original Ijebu kingdom, ruled by the ‘Awujale’ spiritual leader.

Civil wars and the arrival of the British eventually broke the kingdom’s centuries-old Lagos lagoon trade monopoly. But the Awujale of the modern day town of Ijebu-Ode still holds a traditional position of responsibility.

Dr Darling, described the Eredo site as a breathtaking find with many of its remains relatively intact, though overgrown by the rainforest.

“We are not linking what we found to a city, but to a vast kingdom boundary rampart,” he told the BBC.

“The vertical sided ditches go around the area for 100 miles and it is more than 1,000 years old. wujale may be linked
to the Queen of Sheba

“That makes it the earliest proof of an kingdom founded in the African rain forest.”

Love story

But more intriguing still is the suggested link to the Queen of Sheba, one of the world’s oldest love stories.

ajuwale may be linked to queen of sheba

According to the Old Testament, the Queen, ruler of Saba, sent a camel train of gold and ivory to King Solomon.

Solomon wooed and married the queen after she became overwhelmed by the splendor of his palace and their son began a dynasty of rulers in Ethiopia.
The Bible dates the queen’s reign to the tenth century BC and modern scholars have speculated that a link between Judea and an ancient African queen led to the emergence of Judaism in Ethiopia.

In a tale closely linked to that in the Bible, the Koran describes the Queen as a sun worshiper based in the Arabian peninsula who was converted to Islam.
Arabian legend names the queen “Bilqis” and links her to the incense trade which was then a source of great regional power.


Bilikisu Sungbo

But 500-year-old Portuguese documents hint at the power of an Ijebu kingdom and build the case for Sheba being on the other side of the continent.
Local people near to the Eredo monuments link the area to Bilikisu Sungbo, another name for Sheba, said Dr Darling.

Local tradition speaks of a great queen building a vast monument of remembrance and there is an annual pilgrimage to what is believed to be her grave. The region’s long history of gold and ivory trade and the cultural importance of eunuchs linked to royal households further support the Sheba link.

Dr Darling, a member of the African Legacy educational organization which is working with the Nigerian Government, said that Eredo could become Nigeria’s first world heritage site, joining monuments like Stonehenge in the UK and the pyramids of Egypt.

He said Eredo had remained hidden to the outside world because of the lack of scientific and archaeological research in west Africa.
“What is exciting about this for me is that we are beginning to bring out the tremendous political and cultural achievements of black Africa,” he said. …2

Peace be upon you


Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo…..tupe hadithi ya makeda wetu…from Giza to Harare, Tripoli to Kampala, Lagos lagoon en Nairobi, Cairo to Johannesburg, hadi leo watu are still searching for the Queen of Sheba……

(on) The Assassination of El- Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

A: from The New York Times 

Malcolm X, the 39-year-old leader of a militant black nationalist movement, was shot to death yesterday afternoon at a rally of his followers in a ballroom in Washington Heights.

Shortly before midnight, a 22-year-old Negro, Thomas Hagan, was charged with the killing. The police rescued him from the ballroom crowd after he has been shot and beaten.

Malcolm, a bearded extremist, had said only a few words of greeting when a fusillade rang out. The bullets knocked him over backward.

Pandemonium broke out among the 400 Negroes in the Audubon Ballroom at 166th Street and Broadway. As men, women and children ducked under tables and flattened themselves on the floor, more shots were fired. Some witnesses said 30 shots had been fired.

The police said seven bullets had struck Malcolm. Three other Negroes were shot.

About two hours later the police said the shooting had apparently been a result of a feud between followers of Malcolm and members of the extremist group he broke with last year, the Black Muslims. However, the police declined to say whether Hagan is a Muslim.

The Medical Examiner’s office said early this morning that a preliminary autopsy showed Malcolm had died of “multiple gunshot wounds.” The office said that bullets of two different calibers as well as shotgun pellets had been removed from his body.

One police theory was that as many as five conspirators might have been involved, two creating a diversionary disturbance.

Hagan was shot in the left thigh and his left leg was broken, apparently by kicks. He was under treatment in the Bellevue Hospital prison ward last night; perhaps a dozen policemen were guarding him, according to the hospital’s night erintendent. The police said they had found a cartridge case with four unused .45-caliber shells in his pocket.

Two other Negroes, described as “apparent spectators” by Assistant Chief Inspector Harry Taylor, in command of Manhattan North uniformed police, also were shot. They were identified as William Harris, wounded seriously in the abdomen, and William Parker, shot in a foot. Both were taken to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, which is close to the ballroom.

Capt. Paul Glaser of the Police Department’s Community Relations Bureau said early today that Hagan, using a double-barrelled shotgun with shortened barrels and stock, had killed Malcolm X.

Malcolm, a slim, reddish-haired six-footer with a gift for bitter eloquence against what he considered white exploitation of Negroes, broke in March, 1964, with the Black Muslim movement called the Nation of Islam, headed by Elijah Muhammad . . . .1

B: from Newsweek

He was born Malcolm Little, an Omaha Negro preacher’s son. Before he was out of his teens, he was Big Red, a Harlem hipster trafficking in numbers, narcotics, sex, and petty crime. He was buried as Al Hajj Malik Shabazz, a spiritual desperado lost between the peace of Islam and the pain of blackness. His whole life was a series of provisional identities, and he was still looking for the last when, as Malcolm X, 39, apostate Black Muslim and mercurial black nationalist, he was gunned to death by black men last week in a dingy uptown New York ballroom.

He had seen the end coming?predicted it, in fact, so long and so loudly that people had stopped listening. Malcolm X had always been an extravagant talker, a demagogue who titillated slum Negroes and frightened whites with his blazing racist attacks on the “white devils” and his calls for an armed American Mau Mau. His own flamboyant past made it easy to disregard his dire warnings that he had been marked for murder by the Muslims, the anti-white, anti- integrationist Negro sect he had served so devoutly for a dozen years and fought so bitterly since his defection a year ago.

His assassination turned out to be one of his few entirely accurate prophecies. Its fulfillment triggered an ominous vendetta between the Malcolmites and the Muslims?ominous in its intensity even though it was isolated on the outermost extremist fringe of American Negro life.

Death came moments after Malcolm stepped up to a flimsy plywood lectern in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, just north of Harlem, to address 400 of the faithful and the curious at a Sunday afternoon rally of his fledgling Organization of Afro-American Unity. The extermination plot was clever in conception, swift and smooth in execution. Two men popped to their feet in the front rows of wooden folding chairs, one yelling at the other: “Get your hands off my pockets, don’t be messing with my pockets.” Four of Malcolm’s six bodyguards moved toward the pair; Malcolm himself chided, “Let’s cool it.”

Volley: Then came a second diversion: a man’s sock, soaked in lighter fluid and set ablaze, flared in the rear. Heads swiveled, and as they did, a dark, muscular man moved toward the lectern in a crouch, a sawed-off shotgun wrapped in his coat. Blam-blam! A double-barreled charge ripped up through the lectern and into Malcolm’s chest. From the left, near the spot where the two men had been squabbling, came a back-up volley of pistol fire.

Malcolm tumbled backward, his lean body rent by a dozen wounds, his heels hooked over a fallen chair. The hall was bedlam. Malcolm’s pregnant wife, Betty, rushed on stage screaming, “They’re killing my husband!” His retainers fired wildly through the crowd at the fleeing killers. Four assailants made it to side doors and disappeared.

The man with the shotgun, identified by police as 22-year-old Talmadge Hayer of Paterson, N.J., dashed down a side aisle to the stairway exit from the second floor ballroom. From the landing, one of Malcolm’s bodyguards winged him in the thigh with a .45-caliber slug. Howling in pursuit (“Kill the bastard!”), the ballroom crowd caught Hayer on the sidewalk, mauled him, and broke his ankle before police rescued him.

Hayer was charged with homicide. Five days later, police picked up a karate-trained Muslim “enforcer,” Norman 3X Butler, 26, as suspect No. 2.

The arrest of a Muslim surprised almost no one. For all his many enemies, Malcolm himself had insisted to the end that it was the Muslims who wanted him dead. They seemed to dog him everywhere he went; a bare week before his death, he was firebombed out of his Queens home, the ownership of which he had been disputing with the Muslims. Increasingly edgy, he moved with his wife and four children first to Harlem’s Hotel Theresa, finally?the night before his death?to the New York Hilton in the alien world downtown. When he died, Manhattan police assumed that Muslims were involved . . . .2

C: from New York Post

They came early to the Audubon Ballroom, perhaps drawn by the expectation that Malcolm X would name the men who firebombed his home last Sunday, streaming from the bright afternoon sunlight into the darkness of the hall.

The crowd was larger than usual for Malcolm’s recent meetings, the 400 filling three-quarters of the wooden folding seats, feet scuffling the worn floor as they waited impatiently, docilely obeying the orders of Malcolm’s guards as they were directed to their seats.

I sat at the left in the 12th row and, as we waited, the man next to me spoke of Malcolm and his followers:

“Malcolm is our only hope,” he said. “You can depend on him to tell it like it is and to give Whitey hell.”

Then a man was on the stage, saying:

“. . . I now give you Brother Malcolm. I hope you will listen, hear, and understand.”

There was a prolonged ovation as Malcolm walked to the rostrum past a piano and a set of drums waiting for an evening dance and stood in front of a mural of a landscape as dingy as the rest of the ballroom.

When, after more than a minute the crowd quieted, Malcolm looked up and said, “A salaam aleikum (Peace be unto you)” and the audience replied “Wa aleikum salaam (And unto you, peace).”

Bespectacled and dapper in a dark suit, his sandy hair glinting in the light, Malcolm said: “Brothers and sisters . . .” He was interrupted by two men in the center of the ballroom, about four rows in front and to the right of me, who rose and, arguing with each other, moved forward. Then there was a scuffle in the back of the room and, as I turned my head to see what was happening, I heard Malcolm X say his last words: “Now, now brothers, break it up,” he said softly. “Be cool, be calm.”

Then all hell broke loose. There was a muffled sound of shots and Malcolm, blood on his face and chest, fell limply back over the chairs behind him. The two men who had approached him ran to the exit on my side of the room shooting wildly behind them as they ran.

I fell to the floor, got up, tried to find a way out of the bedlam.

Malcolm’s wife, Betty, was near the stage, screaming in a frenzy. “They’re killing my husband,” she cried. “They’re killing my husband.”

Groping my way through the first frightened, then enraged crowd, I heard people screaming, “Don’t let them kill him.” “Kill those bastards.” “Don’t let him get away.” “Get him.”

At an exit I saw some of Malcolm’s men beating with all their strength on two men. Police were trying to fight their way toward the two. The press of the crowd forced me back inside.

I saw a half-dozen of Malcolm’s followers bending over his inert body on the stage, their clothes stained with their leader’s blood. Then they put him on a litter while guards kept everyone off the platform. A woman bending over him said: “He’s still alive. His heart’s beating.”

Four policemen took the stretcher and carried Malcolm through the crowd and some of the women came out of their shock long enough to moan and one said: “I don’t think he’s going to make it. I hope he doesn’t die, but I don’t think he’s going to make it.”

I spotted a phone booth in the rear of the hall, fumbled for a dime, and called a photographer. Then I sat there, the surprise wearing off a bit, and tried desperately to remember what had happened. One of my first thoughts was that this was the first day of National Brotherhood Week.3

1Peter Kihss, The New York Times, Febnruary 22, 1965, p. 1. Copyright @1965 by The New York Times Company.
2Newsweek, March 8, 1965, Copyright @ 1965, Newsweek.Inc. All rights reserved.
3Thomas Skinner, “I saw Malcolm Die,” The New York Post, February 22, 1965, p. 1.

Copyright © 2000 by Daniel J. Kurland.  All rights reserved.

Source: http://www.criticalreading.com/malcolm.html

[i,S.I.S note: en today, en the moons forward, we have all the power to share mo resources with bredrin en dadas on the continent – our freedom fighters, peacemakers and those spreading love, hope and positivity in abundance on the frontlines and wherever  they may be – from Harare to Kampala, Accra to Nairobi, from Cairo to Cape town….like check dis’ and spread the werd! or do anything you want with these stories, but don’t say you’d have lived your life differently if only you’d heard dis story, now you know….]



22 February 2011

This Union is outraged at the arrest of 52 activists in Harare on 19th February by armed security personnel. It appears that their only ‘crime’ was to be part of a discussion group, with a film examining recent events in Egypt and the Middle East.  They are all currently being detained in Harare Central Prison. This unprovoked attack on a peaceful political education session is indicative of the type of terror that was unleashed by ZANU-PF in the run up to the last elections.

afrika huru! afrika moja!

The purpose then as now, is clearly to instil fear into the general population in an attempt to demobilise democratic forces from asserting their rights. ZANU-PF has made it clear that they intend to win the next elections, even without an agreed constitution in place, and to win it by any means.

Zimbabwe continues to be in a state of siege. The working class and the poor continue to bear the brunt of the prolonged economic crisis while those in positions of power enjoy all that money can buy.  It is therefore imperative that those who wish to see a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe, where all are able to share in the resources of the country, must speak out when such attacks take place. They do not belong in a democratic society, and are a crude attempt to intimidate those courageous enough to say that another Zimbabwe is possible.

We demand that the 52 persons arrested be immediately released, and that if any charges are brought against them, that they be vigorously challenged and decisively refuted as justice demands they be. Furthermore, that those who disrupted this peaceful gathering be called to account and be exposed for what they are, wreckers of democracy.


Source: http://www.kubatanablogs.net/kubatana/

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