March 2011

I was born when lizards were in ones and twos

colour spill productions: east side story

A child of Idemili. The difficult tear drops

Of sky’s weeping drew my spots. Being

Sky-born I walked the earth with royal gait

And mourners saw me coiled across their path.

But of late

A strange bell

Has been singing a song of desolation:

Leave your yams and cocoyams

And come to school.

And I must run away in haste

When children in play or in earnest cry:

Look! A Christian is on the way……

[read Travels of alice in wonderland:upside-down]

…beside/s the sorrow of the solitary voice that now wailed after them they might have been returning with a bride. The sweet agony of the solitary singer settled like dew on the head.

Dis hadithi is about ‘IT’, for the purposes of dis blog (story/teller) ‘IT’

[revised excerpts  ya Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe]

is the tangled web of realities that transform (not only) my perspectives on waiting for superman, the politrix of diverse media on [david]kato’s trial, retreats en the pursuit of ‘rapture’ TO what comes next…

like a poem from d’bi young anitafrika’s epic dub archive….ancient concept…..

it all comes down to.. nothing less than UPENDO

that has me (en we)not only advocating for truth n reconciliation but co-creating epics of the hadithis of our lives with our learning villages

IT is what has had us rebelling in righteousness and rebuilding our homesteads from (long ago)

sharing all our resources to grow[ing] magical forests  en farm[ing] yams, pumpkins n herbs, multiply[ing] heads of goats en hens

retelling [ancient] poetry openly in diverse urban spaces [never confessing bush-rituals. But. dey plotting big time for return from exile o…..

[between the lines: we ask those tuff questions of remembering tradishun en paths of harvesting the powah! of our diversity,

only) TUKIFAFANUA the complexities of ‘every-night-till-the-newyamfeast’

(na)the urgency of security/interventions for LGBTIQ asylum seekers,

(na) the sacredness of  bredrin en sistrin/outsiders

IT is the spaces between silence, organising, and play(ing)with friends en families, praying (even) for blessings for  our enemies, and those who fight us…

IT is the struggle to maintain the abundance of well being and prosperity to blue sky and farm in the rurals,


Dreaming to Embark on a year long (artist-in-residence) retreat with (s)kin folk[s], finance [grassroots] organising with Bredrin and sistas in solidarity like   AfraKenya, Black Queer Resistance en The Brown Boi Project, Colour Me Dragg and FARUg , SMUG & T.I.TsUganda, Deviant & Goldelox productions,

massive human-positive en salaam coalitions and the people project[s] facilitating positive relearning en transformation at spaces like [moyo wa Afreeka] centres en women’s health in women’s hands,

IT is re/mapping the foundations of healing/schools without borders through [queer/Afrikan re-visions of en call outs for un]conferences like

Queer It Yourself – Tools for Survival

[read: how to become a professional queer –  in another place not here

Play: spot the remix/ed en indigenus….hold a memory..harvest pumpkins, yams en herbs]

As a part of the 2011 National Queer Arts Festival, “A Sustainable Queer Planet,” the Visual Arts Committee presents…….

QIY: A laboratory…envisioned as… [re]creating a sustainable queer culture and demonstrating the power of self and community organizing, co-creation, speculation, and transformation.

As an antidote to anti-sociality theories of queerness (that suggest queerness can only be rendered as a negation of heteronormativity), Queer It Yourself invites artists to forge their own tools for surviving the everyday challenges of contemporary queer existence…….

Queering the index….the various sections of the QIY exhibition include:

Land Use / Dig it (organic farming, community gardens, eco-projects, cruising sites, earthworks, recycling projects, rural gay culture, hippies and rednecks, RFD zine, Billy Club, 420 cultures, mountain men, off the grid living, survivalism, subsistence, indigenous and third world land use, border disputes)

Shelter / Sheltering (guides to urban and rural homemaking, urban and rural homelessness, cars, tents, bridges and freeway overhangs, tiny houses, pre-fab housing, visionary architecture, greening your living space, creating mood lighting with energy efficient fixtures, housing collectives, polyamorous living)

Craft Making / Queering it (queer arts and crafts, craft demos, how-to guides and workshops, how to use, Blurb and self-publishing software, QIY kinky toys, homemade fashion and couture)

Commerce / Selling it (experiments with capitalism, fashion collectives, sexwork, alternative book,

art, and product distribution, queer & LGBT marketing demographics, critiques, small businesses, barter, trade, resource-based economy vs. commodity-based economy)

Community / Join in (political organizing, queer community organizing, ad hoc political action committees, queer pride, gay shame, organizing your first demonstration, social & political groups, leather clubs, s/m networks, biker gangs)

Nomadics / Roaming (the culture of the road, the runway, the superhighway, jetsetting, transnationalism, queer diasporas, queer immigrant and exile cultures)



ommunications / Connecting (zines, homo-core

music, queer speed-dating, independent publishing, social networking, blogging, listserves, social media, flashmobs, promotional strategies, writing your first press release, street art, posters, stickers, queer graffiti)

Learning / Get Schooled (community art and culture projects, health activism, continuing education, grant writing and fundraising, guides for queer survival, mentorship, “training” in leather circles, drag “mothers”, informal or marginal methods of transmitting culture, service, apprenticeships)

Style / Working it (working the runway, drag king & queen culture, ball culture, leather, gear, street styles, rural styles, international styles, fashion and make-up tips and tricks, makeover demonstrations, finding the right photographer for your head-shot)

We welcome artwork, ephemera, documentation, publications, zines, music, videos, installations, DIY kits, guides, instruction manuals, maps, charts,


top-ten tips, alternative cosmologies, proposals for live demonstrations, workshops and interactive QIY workstations.

Propose a history of Zine culture, show work of collective art projects, show artifacts of ad hoc political action committees, give live demonstrations of quilting and queer homemaking, offer a do-it-yourself stencil-making so that you too can be a street artist, and much more…

[deadline to submit proposals passed but…If you have questions (say about funding for travel n accommodations or collaborating with grassroots networks),

please contact [and] [pia] [na] check dis conference in another place, not here….mo’ wisdom circles in world cafes on the art of taking participatory leadership to scale]

UHAI-EASHRI is pleased to announce that the 3rd Regional Changing Faces, Changing Spaces Conference will be convened in Nairobi, Kenya from 4th to 6th May, 2011. This conference will bring together activists from the LGBTI and sex worker movements in East Africa, as well as health and legal professionals, human rights activists and organisations, and donor partners working in the Region (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda).
As such, UHAI is requesting participation, input and support from activists within the LGBTI and sex worker movements across the five countries. It is hoped that a representative team of activists will guide UHAI in developing the Conference agenda with the needs of the activist community in mind and in light of lessons learned from the 1st and 2nd Conferences.

This will require activist participants, working with the Conference Task Force, to volunteer time and their unique perspectives in helping this Conference meet the needs of all the stakeholders involved in UHAI. Further to this, the activist participants will be involved in crucial decision making regarding the logistics and organizing of this Conference. Therefore, we are seeking a maximum of 8 LGBTI and sex worker activists to volunteer a little of their time (hopefully not more than 5 hours per week in the run up to the Conference). Activist participants will need to have email and telephone access.

This is a great opportunity to shape the 3rd Changing Faces, Changing Spaces

Conference and to ensure your place at it!

….please feel free to send any inputs or inquiries to the Conference Coordinator at

Looking forward to your support, input and participation!

CFCS³ Conference Team

give thanx for yesterday, today en kesho in the Q_t werd: we reveal s/heroes behind the masks,

(share our communing usiku at one a dem tambors for esu [odara]

en invite mo artists to)  co-create enchanted retreats

betwixt en between blue skies/ancient forests,

canoes on the Indian ocean en altars on mountains of the moon,

dis hadithi is the keeper of secrets, esu carry my prayer, divine messenger of transformashun, melding with [great] mystery ase::

dreams of, documenting en facilitating luv-in Elimu sanifu missions of [healing] Safe Spaces with people you [/we are blessed to] know like Lost Lyrics en Manifesto with The Weapon of The Revolution

#todavidwithlove projects watering seeds from Kampala to Nairobi, Tdot to Brooklyn, Cape-town to Dar-es-salaam en Kigali, Montego Bay to Santiago de Cuba, Lagos to Jinja en Tripoli,

from the diaspora of righteousness [back] to Afreekan shores, on a quest of maps with doors to no return.

Are you ready?

Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo…….

Giza ya? Sahani ya?

Wetin dey (UKWELI YA) riddle of the sphinx o?

[between the lines: a queer afrikan reading of mukoma wa ngugi’s poetry]

Listen. Do you hear ghosts? Connect them to the sound of a canoe
on Indian Ocean. Listen to that tape of familiar beats that has weathered
foreign seasons. Sukus found in Salsa. Fela Kuti meets Masekela
in Appalachia. Do not inhale the coal fumes. Hold a memory.

The AntiHomosexuality Bill & Kato's Trial

[recent like the synergy of #todavidwithlove project or the rebirth of  pan-afrikan performing arts (papa) institute, en ancient like creashun o!]

Commit sins of transportation. Bite the past. Spit broken teeth
and colored blood that will chart global awareness. Learn
to say fuck without flinching. Seduce anarchy of the mind and try
to order schizophrenia in realms just outside the touch of your black


hand. Image coming at you. Color it in Old English and an accented
haiku and see what you win. If lucky enough, if you are one of those
lucky cigar smoking sons of bitches, play the lottery and you might win
the lady’s hand. Do not try to break the chains that bind her feet.


Hold her. Touch an image of her that is a mirage of you. Laugh
and say she is crazy to forget with you. Sip your beer gently. Light up,
let the sizzling seeds pass from your lips to hers. Watch the smoke
and its promise, it will turn you on onto possibilities of the night. Smile.

Ghosts. As a child voices sang in my sleep and then took to life. I dueled
them with screams that were hushed with threats of tranquility. I stole
Don Quixote’s sword and found a horse in my bouncing bed and would
have won the battle had it not been for the doctor who found Malaria

[read: HIV/AIDS, no fly zones, sodomy laws, polio, sleeping sickness, tuberculosis et cetera]

where there was none. Pills. Silent duels. And so when the police with guns
and big black coats came for my father, it must have been a dream I dreamt.
That night – pills with no water but morning tea still found a newspaper
damp with dew. Swords thrust, truths as righteousness of strength

bouncing horses and Marx -it all could have been a dream. Learn to stay up
late and talk of classes and footsteps. Not of classes but of labor at the nearest
Micky D’s. Dance to old rhythms and constitute common law while talking
of tradition. Find the nearest altar. Take pills without gun powder. Say

Mandela always with a smile. Miss her but call her a bitch. It will make

gemini by akwa

you feel like a man to stare her down feminism. Dust sprinkled so sparsely

and gently on your feet, stripped dress, gapped smile, black hair in rainbow


your laugh and the way your fingers curled inwards – they always smelled
of plums. I miss our evenings by the pond, that time the sun refused to set
and we had to roll it over and down the hill You never did come to say good bye
how is it I remember your smile at the airport? Stay away from New York.

[even Brooklyn o??!]

[play…. spot the asylum seekers @ ]

eke, the naija drag king

Too many mirrors of yourself. Read Harlem only in your sleep. Learn

to say Puerto Rican radicals got what was coming to them and Mexico

is no man’s land. Watch birds on national geographic migrate.
Amuse yourself in the sound of wing against wind. Ignore the wail

of the middle passage. Find beauty in trees where no necks were broken
and burning flesh was not sacrificed and color it Rainbow. You see,
its all creation. Streams, your feet washing clean. Your curved elbows
sending rays back to the sun. Your militant Khaki skirt wet at the folds.

I sent you a letter. In it I enclosed photos of you as I will remember
you tomorrow. Sometimes I am waiting for you at our pond scribbling
little notes shaped like butterflies and birds that bear your name.
It’s Sunday. How did you leave church to come to me? I swear you make

me laugh. A hungry bird once in mid Indian Ocean flight, very much
weakened by hunger and scared of what lay below, measured
wing against thigh and eat its feet. And as all must come down, it landed
on its head and died. My dear, eat your memories very carefully.

*This poem originally appeared in Hurling Words at Consciousness (AWP, 2006)

[give thanks for today, yesterday and tomorrow, give thanks for the continued guidance and protection of our ancestors]

Mukoma Wa Ngugi is the author of Nairobi Heat (Penguin, SA 2009), an anthology of poetry titled Hurling Words at Consciousness (AWP, 2006) and is a political columnist for the BBC’s Focus on Africa Magazine.  He was short listed for the Caine Prize for African writing in 2009.  He has also been shortlisted for the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing for his novel manuscript, The First and Second Books of Transition.

A former co-editor of Pambazuka News, his columns have appeared in the Guardian, International Herald Tribune, Chimurenga, Los Angeles Times, South African Labour Bulletin, and Business Daily Africa, and he has been a guest on Democracy Now, Al

Jazeera and the BBC World Service. His essays have appeared in the World Literature Review, the Black Commentator, Progressive Magazine and Radical History Review.  His short stories have been published in Wasafiri, Kenyon Review and St. Petersburg Review and poems in the New York Quarterly, Brick Magazine, Kwani?, Chimurenga and Tin House Magazine amongst other places.

Mukoma was born in 1971 in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in Kenya before returning to the United States for his undergraduate and graduate education. He is currently based in Cleveland, Ohio.  He is the son of World renowned African writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o.  You can find his blog here.

He can also be found at:

[redo(ne): in another place not here, Make una read this list o! beaurriful people! E don reach time wey we fit dey use abbreviation for our own exceptional street lingua. Kpele o! We dey plot  big time to chop money… you dey excite now, abi? Yes, ooo.

special thanx to Bredrin en dadas in solidarity like @,, and, for introducing me to to….   En on en on to all dey aiding me in creative process….kesho: seven habits of successful fairies]


[Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo….Kama ya Pan Afrikan Performing Arts Institute, en the Queen who founded dis wondrous senta…… inspiring stories like these teach me en our communities the infinite possibilities n divine manifestations of working on our own unity first….for those of us who want to know what comes tomorrow en the moons after and what more we can do……here’s  some answers en many questions, not only between the lines but, all around us….]

rivers and other blackness between us (cape town)

who among us carry the sage-secrets of loving?

who among us carry the sage-secrets of loving?

what elders and children

walk with old-time knowledge

of a courageous love

an unapologetic love

an uncompromising love

a healing love

tell me who

and I will sit studently

by the rivers of their feet

washing away all the unknowing I have come to know

relearning a language of integrity honesty passion

scribed on our heart’s tongue

by the ancients

whom I have forgotten

somewhere between a dream and a time-less-ness

across di ocean waters

black sons and dawtahs

black moddahs and fadahs

black auntie uncle sistah and breddah

stretch love fabric

thick and thin

so now we trodding

trying to heal these scars

of broken fibre

that stick up inna wi like macka

who among us carry the sage-secrets of loving?

what elders and children

walk with old-time knowledge

of a compassionate love

an unapologetic love

an uncompromising love

a healing love

tell me who

and I will sit studently

by the rivers of their feet

washing away all the unknowing I have come to know

relearning a language of integrity honesty passion

scribed on our heart’s tongue

by the ancients

whom I have forgotten

forgive us for not having loved you relentlessly

in all cases fear has been our worst enemy

were fear not here

I would kiss you

and feed you food from my mouth

stop you from aching and share a smile

maybe even wait with you

by the roadside for a while

were fear not here

I would give name to these unnamed

spaces of accountability

and responsibility

that flow like rivers between us

sometimes silent but always deep

were fear not here

the full moon radiance of your

vulnerable warrior spirit

washing over me like the sun

bathed in blackness

could mirror and you would shine

and I would shine

and we all could shine brilliantly

who among us carry those sage-secrets of loving?

tell me

where are our elders

where are our children

who walk with the old-time knowledge

of a courageous love

an unapologetic love

an uncompromising love

a healing love

tell me who

and I will sit studently

by the rivers of their feet

I want to unknow all this unknowing that I have come to know

I want to relearn a language of honesty

a language of integrity

a language of compassion

these were scribed on my heart’s tongue

by ancient ancient ancient ones

who somehow I have surely forgotten

please forgive me for not having loved you relentlessly

in all cases fear has been my worst enemy

I cannot promise to love you fearlessly

but I will love you courageously

in spite of my fear

I will love you compassionately


and with integrity

this love is a healing love

re-branching herself like the iroko tree

roots reaching beyond

the wounds of yesterday

arms outstretched to the promise of tomorrow

you and I and we

the community

the people









one love

[ase, ase….]

[dis fundraising petition is reposted with overflowing love, respekt en humility from ]

dear member of the community:

my name is d’bi.young anitafrika and I am an afrikan-jamaican-canadian dubpoet, monodramatist, and educator. I am contacting you in the hopes that after reading more about papai you will choose to help fund this urgent and necessary project. the pan afrikan performing arts institute (papai), of which I am the founder and artistic director is a cultural organization committed to the holistic development of afrikan artists, through the use of self-knowledge, orality, rhythm, political content and context, language, urgency, sacredness, and integrity; eight principles in the sorplusi methodology of biomyth theatre, that I am in the process of developing:

  • papai supports the recovery, healing, mentorship, growth, propagation and ultimate success of continental and diaspora afrikan artists through comprehensive creative, practical, technical, philosophical, administrative, and critical-thinking training in the performance arts, via residencies, courses, and workshops. papai provides the panafrikan artist with the tools to assert, manage, promote, and professionally develop ourselves while formulating a methodology to house our creativity.
  • papai is also devoted to the exploration, preservation, and expansion of afrikan oral storytelling traditions within and outside of afrika through it’s centre for research.
  • and thirdly papai is invested in the arts-education paradigm shift that the sorplusi methodology and biomyth theatre represent; founded on a system of critical thought-analysis, accountability-responsibility, and love for the earth and ourselves within it, the sorplusi method inspires artists to be conscientious human beings and conscientious human beings to become artists.

I was born and raised in jamaica and as an emerging artist, I always desired mentorship in developing a personal system of art-making and dissemination grounded in knowledge of self and community. throughout the years I have had the great fortune of being raised by many villages and being mentored by some incredible doers and thinkers starting with my mother and grandmother. all of their guidance and support taught me that in the absence of what I need, I must create from what I have been given. papai is for every afrikan artist who has ever felt neglected, unsupported, uncelebrated and left to fall through the cracks of life; whether amateur or professional,  emerging, mid-career or established, my vision is that papai will house our whole selves as we regain our rituals and cycles of afrikan oral storytelling traditions. and provide the necessary resources for us to soar beyond our wildest spiritual, creative and professional dreams.

currently papai is home to a school of monodrama and a school of storytelling for youth. in the near future we hope to also nurture a main theatre, a centre for research of afrikan oral traditions, a library, green arts project, and a plethora of other programs and services including artist consultation and mentorship, weekly townhalls and performances, and the annual vuvuzela! monodrama festival and storyteller (un)conference. we also envision housing the me/we funding drive, an in-house funding system for projects that emerge from our student body.

papai’s school of monodrama is directed at young adults ages 18-35. the program presently hosts 5 students, tuition-free, in its three month biomyth monodrama residency: phillip cowie from the cape flats, mbali vilakazi from cape town, siphumeze khundayi from the eastern cape, jennifer bryant from the united states and danielle lee williams from canada. we meet twice per week for three hours; there I teach a curriculum based on biomyth theatre and the sorplusi principles. each student creates a solo show which is then presented to the public at the end of the program. papai’s other program is the  school of storytelling for youth. it is geared towards learners ages 4-16 and is a joint initiative between the pan african market and papai. I facilitate tuition free storytelling sessions for children and youth bi-weekly on saturday mornings from 10am-12pm. the curriculum includes storytelling, games, discussions, art tours and other stimulating creative activities.

currently, there is no one organization in cape town or in the rest of south afrika that provides pan afrikan artists with a wide artistic skill-set that enables them to professionalize their art, including teaching them how to conceptualize an idea, nurture the idea, manifest the idea, garner support for it, market it, stage it, and finally professionally and personally benefit from the entire process.  the institute is based on the premise that everyone is a storyteller, and gives the artist a solid theoretical, methodological, practical, pedagogical, and administrative approach to the art of art-making dissemination. artists get the opportunity to reflect on their lives while developing a personal creative system that they can utilize when they need to generate art. this system is primarily concerned with developing a sense of integrity on the part of the artist for the work that they create, and for themselves within the work. the artist is always implicated in their art and the dialogue between them and their audiences is always open.

papai aims to mirror in many ways the objectives of your organization and it is for this reason that I have contacted you, in the hopes that you would take into consideration supporting papai through a financial contribution to our institute. this contribution will help us to grow and develop philosophically, ideologically, socio-politically, and economically as well as assist us in further providing tuition free education to afrikan artists. you can make you donation through our website as well as find out more about papai at and about me at

I can be contacted via email at or via telephone at    +27(0) 760 889 025.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for you contribution.

in solidarity


founder and artistic director of papai

check dis brudda's site out @

[ nakupenda….bless you dada and your family, and all those around you….infinite gratitude for all the positive transformashuns in our shared spaces, diverse and intersecting journeys with our growing, revolushunary villages….wanikumbusha kila siku pamoja tunaweza! Pamoja tunafika!  ase

In the words of another brudda in solidarity,”You Dun Know D’bi we will be (re)uniting very soon….” ]

[between the lines: i, s(ista) i(n) s(olidarity) give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow,our true love stories make I and so many others extremely happy…]

Dar es Salaam is abuzz. It’s giving birth to a novel artistic landscape. Well, at least new in scope.

A cursory look at and other calendars gives a glimpse of what is happening in Dar on a daily basis. Of particular interest are the originality, novelty and locality of oratory and literary expressions. They remind one of the making of the Harlem Renaissance.

Just to recap, the Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that partly swept New York City in the early 20th century. It produced music luminaries such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and Duke Ellington. The movement also produced great poets such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay. It was in these times that the famous Apollo Theater came into being.

pamoja tunafika!

The works of these artists and artistes are still immortalized in the African imagination. Langston Hughes’s poem ‘A Dream Deferred’ continues to inspire critiques of the post-colonial ‘African condition’ – no wonder one voluminous biography is entitled ‘Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred.’

It is also not surprising that the Ella Fitzgerald jazz song ‘Drop me off in Harlem’ was also used as a soundtrack in the movie ‘Malcolm X’ starring Denzel Washington. And even today writers are still grappling with Countee Cullen’s poetic question: ‘What is Africa to me?’

Such is a fervour one finds in Dar to the extent that at the risk of engaging in a stereotypical linear comparison it is tempting to refer to all this as ‘The Dar es Salaam Renaissance.’ Of course the term ‘renaissance’ is not as innocent, especially when viewed in the context of what happened to Africa and the then so-called ‘New World’ after the European Renaissance. Yet it is a term that captures well the cultural awakening that tends to usher social change in any society.
It is in this regard that we need to pay close attention to what is happening in Dar’s cultural space, for in it are seeds of a social transformation-cum-revolution. What do you see when you encounter youngsters with locally produced t-shirts with Kiswahili or ‘Kiswanglish’ messages such as ‘Harakati…’ and ‘Na-struggle…’? Or what do you hear when you listen to them rapping about societal injustice? Mind you these artistic products are not made by NGOs or donor money!

What is interesting is that this renaissance in Dar es Salaam is pulling people from all walks of life and age as it crystallises a social consciousness necessary for societal transformation.

The ‘maiden’ Pen & Mic event attests to that. It featured poetic expressions from the likes of Vitali Maembe, Saida Yahya-Othman, Fid Q, Langa Sarakikya, Walter Bgoya and Mzungu Kichaa. You can read a bit about the event or relive it altogether at

Yet that is not the only space in Dar. There is the Fanani Flava poetry club that meets every last Tuesday of the month at A Novel Idea Bookshop in Slipway. Who knows, maybe a century from now its blog at will be one of the leading archives of the Dar es Salaam Renaissance. Surely such a space needs to expand, lest it become, if not remain, elitist.

Last but not least there is Soma Book Café at and its Soma Literary Magazine, among yet many others, is a space for fusing oral and literary consciousness. Interestingly, the upcoming issue of the magazine features Maya Wegerif, whose poem ‘Who tells our story?’ at is a recipe for an African (cultural) revolution.


* Chambi Chachage is an independent researcher, newspaper columnist and policy analyst, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.   * This article was first published on the Udadisi blog.
* Please send comments to or comment online at Pambazuka News.

[feel like I can’t blog it enough…..infinite gratitude for all those spreading love, hope and positivity in abundance…infinite gratitude for our true true hadithi]

Who tells our stories?

I’ve heard that the stories of hunting will remain weak
Unless the lion itself learns to speak.
If it is he who exploits us that tells our story you see
Then we will always be spear-hurling savages you and me

Because during slavery when we were forced to work for the white
This is the story they told
‘We are doing those Negroes a favor bringing them from the Dark Continent into the light’
And with that story we were sold.
They convinced themselves that ‘these negroes are beasts without the capacity to feel pain, shame or sorrow’
And slaves are fed and clothed, ‘we’re giving them a far better deal than they know’
And so the stories of hunting remained weak
because the lion was whipped if he tried to speak.

And when that lie became transparent and it became apparent that Africans were not like children who needed a parent
They began a new lie that would keep us subservient
Through their media they began to portray us as primitive and uncivilized
And thus announced it their burden
to come here and rescue us, to make us believers as though we were uncertain
Their holy book was the only book they allowed and forced us to read
Taught us to pray while they preyed on our meat
Throughout this purgery, they proudly named this converting we
Then went back and told of our tears of joy, when actually we cried and we’d bleed
They called us Pagans and heathens and tried to make us forget what gods we did know
Stealing our ancestors’ land because their God told them so? NO
And so, if it is he who exploits us that tells our story you see
Then we are spear-hurling savages you and me

And thus it went on through the colonial era
Stole our food and fed us lies that the smarter were fairer – A historical error.
Until we ourselves believed that we were inferior
And then they didn’t have to do so much of the story-telling
Because blindly we became mouth pieces still viewing ourselves through white-eyes
Judging ourselves on white standards, these were our white lies
And so we bit our mother tongues, after all how else could we survive?
And so the stories of hunting remained weak
Because the lion itself could not speak.

And so they observed us till we became blind
They spoke and spoke until our own words we couldn’t find
Now we wish our black eyes would reflect the sky
We want hair that follows orders from the wind
Because they preached that black was scary, and ignorant and death
No one has taught us that black is the color of endlessness, the universe and of depth.

When they told our story they spoke of primitive people with no organization
They spoke of our fields that seemed to be unused, with no signs of cultivation
We did not explain that we had empires with kings and queens and courts and tribunals and religion and music and love- We failed to speak of our kingdoms and complex early civilizations
We did not explain why we didn’t plant our crops in rows and so our fields appeared jumbled or untended, of form productive intercropping that we used for stopping the soil from over utilization
and so no one reached this realization
And so the stories of hunting have remained weak
Because the lion never did speak.

For too long we have allowed stories to be told for us!
Let us not speak on behalf of the West, let us speak from within us.
W’Afrika tujenge hadithi zetu wenyewe za kuhadithia
Zile hadithi zetu za zamani, tusisahau kuzisikia
Listen to the stories bibi tells not just the stories BBC sells
Let us revive our storytellers of old, let us sing the songs we sang and retell the stories we told
And as we move along let us create our own standard, our own beauty. Revive our historians and revolutionaries, let us be bold.
Let’s take walks down memory street
Retrace and teach the beat of our ancestors’ feet
But also move to the groove of our own emancipation
Casually let’s speak our native minds with no care as to who this will suit
Let the lion speak of how the hunter trembles in his boots before he shoots
Those old tales, they rendered us weak


As performed at the Tedxdar conference on 22 May 2010

the revolushun will (not) be televised, dis revolushun is live 🙂

The Ten Constants

No two wisdom circles are alike, yet there are elements that all wisdom circles share

….Shaped by a set of guidelines called the Ten Constants…The shared values and deep purposes common to all wisdom circles, no matter what their individual aims are

…The better you grasp the constants, the more confidence you will feel in leading and participating in your own group.

Later, you may choose to modify these guidelines, depending on the needs of your circle.

We encourage you to improvise, go with the Muse.

Each person is a teacher in the circle, but it will become clear that the real teacher is the circle itself.

[Between the lines: infinite gratitude for Bredrin and sistas in solidarity spreading love, hope and positivity in abundance….

folks  I(s.i.s) and so many others love, respekt and admire so like, AfraKenya, Behind the Mask, Black Looks, Black Queer Resistance, Bredrin and sistas in solidarity, Bunge La Mwananchi, Colour Me Dragg, Colour Spill Productions, Elimu Sanifu, Engender, Fahamu, FARUg, G.A.L.C.K, Goldelox productions, Human Positive, Kufunda learning village, LAMBDA, Moyo wa Africa, None on Record, Outspoken Radio, Pan Afrikan Performing Arts Institute, Salaam, Schools Without Borders, S.M.U.G, Seven Sistas, The Peace Theatre, T.I.Ts Uganda, TRCC,  The People Project , Weapon of The Revolution, Women’s Health in Women’s Hands , (The) Yoruba House Project….en all the others we hold dear in our hearts….

bless dem en their families, and all those around them, bless our enemies too, bless our freedom fighters, healers and peacemakers, bless the poor en the elderly, bless our youth coming into their right destinies, bless the ancestors on the Afrikan shores and within the diaspora of righteousness, Ifa, I pray for health and prosperity not only for myself but for others, I pray for long life and happiness not only for myself but for others, Ifa, I pray for knowledge and wisdom not only for myself but for others, Ifa I ask forgiveness for my sins, those that I know and don’t know about, and those I am yet to commit…Ifa, I pray to be humble. Ifa, I pray to be strong. Ifa, once again I pray for wisdom, for the blessings of yesterday to carry into tomorrow…

Eshu, carry our prayers…remove obstacles from our path…..]

Please keep in mind that there is no rigid or “correct” order to the constants.

  1. Honor the circle as sacred time and space by using simple rituals to mark the opening and closing.
  2. Create a collective center by mutually agreeing upon a topic or intention.
  3. Ask to be informed by our highest human values such as compassion and truth, by the wisdom of the ancestors, and by the needs of those yet to be born.
  4. Express gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for the blessings and teachings of life.
  5. Create a safe container for full participation and deep truth telling.
  6. Listen from the heart, and serve as a compassionate witness for the other people in the circle.
  7. Speak from the heart and from direct experience.
  8. Make room for silence to enter.
  9. Empower each member to be a co-facilitator of the process.
  10. Commit to an ongoing relationship with the people in your group, and carry the intentions of the circle into daily life.

You may find that some of these guidelines are easy to relate to, while others are more challenging. Our advice is to incorporate the constants into your circle at a pace which is comfortable. Listening from the heart and speaking from the heart requires considerable empathy and trust.

What you look for in the beginning is one or more people who can model “from the heart” for the others…..part of the groups spiritual work is to help each member feel safe and valued enough to participate…..

The Second Constant: Pamoja Tunaweza

[create a collective center……read as: senta ya watoto wa Mama Afrika]

The Third Constant: Ask to Be Informed

We call upon all those who have lived on this earth, our ancestors and our friends, who dreamed the best for future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built, and with this thanksgiving, we call upon them to teach us and show us the way.

Chinook Invocation

….Invoking certain qualities into the circle enlarges our sense of purpose and begins the process of connecting us with our higher selves. When we ask them to be informed by these qualities, we are kindling the same energies within ourselves. If someone invokes compassion, she is reminding herself to bring forth that quality when she speaks. And she is reminding the rest of us to do the same.

In a larger sense, we are calling on the others to bear witness and assist us in our efforts to manifest the qualities we invoke. The circle maker can suggest we begin by inviting various qualities such as joy, truth-telling, generosity, laughter, openness to change, into the circle.

After this “calling in”, a qualitative shift in the feeling tone of the group usually occurs. The circle is now graced with a larger awareness of the values you hold and the intentions you carry.

Summary of the Fourth Constant

Express gratitude for the blessings and teachings of life/death/life cycles.

Acknowledge and honour our interdependence with everything in the web of life.

In silence, or by taking turns, give thanks for those people and those things great and small whose gifts enrich and nourish you.


Create a safe container: The Fifth Constant

The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

James Baldwin, as quoted in Loneliness and Love by Clark E. Moustakas

This circle is a home where we feel known, trusted and valued. It is a safe container where we can draw upon our innate capacities for wisdom, compassion, and self-healing. We humans have depended on such capacities for millennia. We have also depended on each other for a sense of sanctuary. In the circle, each of us can reveal our fears, show our vulnerabilities, and give voice to our dreams. A safe space where we can begin  a “foolish project” like learning to live together in harmony. It’s time to begin a “foolish project”.

….It is good to know five safety devices that are built into a wisdom circle:

  1. The creation of sacred space
  2. The intention to listen and speak from the heart
  3. The talking object
  4. The choice to remain silent
  5. The commitment to confidentiality

These are such powerful safety elements that we’ve seen groups of strangers walk into sterile hotel meeting rooms and willingly reveal things to each other in a circle that they have not said to loved ones in years, if ever.

When we’re in a temple, a church, a mosque or other sacred place, we don’t expect to be verbally attacked, embarrassed, or made fun of in a disrespectful way.

A wisdom circle is also a sacred place that offers us the promise that we will be treated with respect, that we are and will be “safe”.

This safety is crucial to the emergence of deep truth telling.

In a circle, we can allow ourselves to be truly seen and can stop trying to “look good” to others…..

Welcome to the circle. Let’s proceed to clear a space for spirit to enter and take a moment to feel our soul connections.

Close your eyes and notice your breathing.

Allow your breath to carry you deeper and deeper into yourself, far, far back in time.

Into a time when….your ancestors met in circles.

Perhaps you can hear the drums, feel the warmth of fiya on your face, feel the bonds of kinship and belonging…….

Each and every one of us had ancestors who sat around a fiya together, drumming, singing, dancing, telling stories, praying…….in those circles people spoke from the heart, they found solutions to their problems, they laughed and they played, celebrated and grieved together.

The memory of this time is in your body, in your bones, in your belly. It is your deep connecshun to the circle. It is your heritage.

The time has come to remember the circle and bring this way of gathering back into our consciousness, into our lives, and into community……

We enter the wisdom circle with a commitment to explore our basic inquiry: How can we continue to survive, dream, hope and carry on in this time of transformation?

How can we release rigid patterns of thinking and broaden our perspective? Let’s set aside philosophical debate and listen to each other with an open heart.

Let’s begin by asking provocative questions, questions that push us to reconsider the values and assumptions upon which we base our lives…..


Asking the Right Questions

We often use this inquiry to begin the rounds of a wisdom circle as a way of introducing people to each other. Each person revealssomething personal about themselves. We’ve heard an amazing range of answers to that seemingly simple question….

[i,S.I.S note: in dis global web of the world of a circle, my names are Molisa Nyakale, a pseudonym. code for a vision quest of different worlds.]

Questioning something as basic as our names gives us a glimpse of the ways a wisdom circle encourages us to shake up old thinking patterns…….the kinds of questions that best serve us are those that inspire self-reflection and allow us to draw from our direct experiences. Such questions sometimes spark revelations that surprise the speaker. Sometimes, they uncover old wounds, and tears come with the answers…..

The most memorable wisdom circles are those in which you come away with greater self-acceptance and self respect because the group process helped you to know yourself betta.

Do you feel more empowered, have a clearer vision of your life and how you fit into the larger picture, a better sense of what your unique medicine is, after you have attended a wisdom circle?

Did you have the opportunity to reaffirm what you truly value? Did you experience some relief when you revealed your struggle in the company of kindred spirits? Did you grow in your capacity to listen from the heart? Each of these questions suggests an experience that is possible in circle….

Yes, a wisdom circle is a place for self-discovery, for nurturing ourselves. And yes, a wisdom circle encourages us to engage the world. It is a place to build compassionate community and forge a new strategy for living in a world that works for everyone……

People who have taken the time to “work on themselves” have frequently compiled an impressive list of workshops, books, retreats and vision quests. These folks might be called “inner focused.” They believe that the most compassionate and meaningful thing you can do for others is to work on yourself.

Others have spent their time doing volunteer work, organising political and social activities, restoring the environment, and raising children. These are the folks we might call “outer focused,” and they believe the most compassionate and meaningful thing you can do is to try to improve the world.

Some of us have done a little -or a lot- of both……When we are anchored by an inner reality, a vision, and values we have come to know as our spiritual home, we can “move mountains”.

In a wisdom circle, cross-fertilization occurs between “inner” and “outer”: between our own inner guidance and wisdom, and the experience of others…..we are guided by a reconciling question that informs our lives: “Is it viable to the self and workable in the world?”

(…..) The wisdom circle can be the “heartspace” that helps institutions function productively in a more humane way. It has the potential to heal separations in many settings.

We feel a bonding with the people in our circles and then find ourselves taking that increased potential for relationship out into the world. The deep, warm, strong connections in circle become the standard for our relationships everywhere. Rather than the circle being an exceptional situation, it is a natural meeting ground.

The circle is a dojo- a practice arena-for an opening of the heart. We invite you to join us and explore this process for yourself in the company of kindred spirits…….

Ase, Ase…….

[revised excerpts from] Wisdom Circles: A Guide to Self Discovery and Community Building in Small Groups

Charles Garfield, Cindy Spring, Sedonia Cahill;


[check dis….]

A workshop on Yoruba Spirituality with Prince Bamidele

Sunday March 6th   @ 12pm-4pm

Accents Bookstore 1790 Eglinton Ave. W

(Just east of Dufferin on Eglinton)

Click here for map

Light Lunch provided at 2pm

$15-$30 sliding scale

(no one turned away for lack of funds)

Please Register in Advance

To Register, contact or call (647) 340-2265


This workshop is open to people of African descent of all ages.  This will be a safe space and Queer Black women are particularly encouraged to attend.

The workshop will cover in- depth, the understanding of Yoruba peoples of western Nigeria and Benin, West Africa. We will explore their ways of life, history and system of belief in relation to spiritualism in the world today.

Topics include different deities of the Yoruba and their special attributes as related to humans; their functions, powers and the significance of prayers to the deities.

Workshops will be in the form of spiritual circle with discussions on Orishas. (See attached flyer for full description)

moyo flyer


Moyo wa Africa is a community of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora who are committed to the reclamation of Indigenous African spiritualities, knowledge systems, economic models and resources. Through this work we support our people in a process of resisting and healing from the damage caused by colonialism, and we move towards our vision of rebuilding healthy, independent and sustainable African societies.

For more info, please go to

This workshop was made possible with the support of the Community One Foundation and

The Girls Action Foundation

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