August 1 is Emancipation Day in Canada and other countries that were once British colonies. Africans who had been enslaved in Antigua, Canada and South Africa were freed on August 1, 1834.

Africans who had been enslaved by the British in several Caribbean islands including Barbados, Dominica, Trinidad and Jamaica, in British Guiana (Britain’s sole South American colony) and in British Honduras (Britain’s sole colony in Central America) were subjected to a system of “apprenticeship” which lasted from 1834 to August 1, 1838.

Africans were forced to continue living on the plantations of the people who had enslaved them and worked 40 hours a week without pay (paid a pittance for work over 40 hours) as “apprentices.” They were forced to pay taxes and rent for the dreadful hovels in which they dwelled on the plantations. In 1838 two British men Thomas Harvey and Joseph Sturge documented the brutality of the “apprenticeship” system when they published The West Indies in 1837: Being the Journal of a Visit to Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, St Lucia, Barbados and Jamaica, Undertaken for the Purpose of Ascertaining the Actual Conditions of the Negro Population of Those Islands. Harvey and Sturge wrote;

“A new kind of slavery under the name Apprenticeship; an anomalous condition, in which the negroes were continued, under a system of coerced and unrequited labour.” They also observed that “the planters have since succeeded in moulding the Apprenticeship into an almost perfect likeness of the system they so unwillingly relinquished.

An equal, if not greater amount, of uncompensated labor, is now extorted from the negros; while, as their owners have no longer the same interest in their health and lives, their condition, and particularly that of mothers and young children, is in many respects worse than during slavery.”

While the Africans were suffering in slave like conditions under the apprenticeship system, white people in Britain were in self congratulatory mode. The Guardian, a British newspaper, published the following piece dated Saturday August 2, 1834:

“Throughout the British dominions the sun no longer rises on a slave. Yesterday was the day from which the emancipation of all our slave population commences; and we trust the great change by which they are elevated to the rank of freemen will be found to have passed into effect in the manner most accordant with the benevolent spirit in which it was decreed, most consistent with the interests of those for whose benefit it was primarily intended, and most calculated to put an end to the apprehensions under which it was hardly to be expected that the planters could fail to labour as the moment of its consummation approaches. We shall await anxiously the arrivals from the West Indies that will bring advices to a date subsequent to the present time.”
Meanwhile on Saturday August 2, 1834, a group of Africans were on their second day of demonstrations in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad because they were furious that complete freedom was still 6 years away. Africans in the Caribbean had learned that those who worked in the fields would be apprenticed until 1840 and those who worked in the homes of the slave holders or were skilled tradesmen would be apprenticed until 1938. It is hardly surprising that on August 1, 1834 a group of angry Africans had gathered at Government House in Port of Spain. Governor George Fitzgerald Hill sent the militia out to intimidate the group but the furious Africans stood their ground recognizing that the “apprenticeship” system was a scam used by the white plantation owners and the government representatives in the Caribbean to use free African labour for a further 6 years. In spite of the presence of the militia, the protest continued until nightfall when the protesters strategically withdrew because they were not allowed to be in the town during the night.

On Saturday August 2nd, when the group of protesters returned to Government House, Hill gave the order to arrest them. There were scuffles with the militia and some of the protesting Africans were arrested, tried, sentenced to hard labour and flogging and taken to the Royal Jail. Their incensed compatriots were forced to flee but returned on the Monday to continue the protest. The numbers had swollen by Monday and there were more clashes with the militia. Some of those who were arrested on the Monday were publicly flogged in Marine Square. The protests continued the entire week before it was quelled, but several of the Africans refused to return to the plantations and instead “squatted” in districts known today as Belmont and East Dry River.

On July 25th, 1838, Governor Hill called an emergency session of the Council of Government to seek approval of a special proclamation he had drafted which ended the apprenticeship period for Africans in Trinidad on August 1, 1838 whether they worked in the fields, homes or were skilled workers. Africans throughout the region protested their continued enslavement under the Apprenticeship system and on August 1, 1838 slavery was abolished in all the British colonies.

Since the abolition of slavery Africans have celebrated August 1st as Emancipation Day or August Monday. British author J.R. Kerr-Ritchie in his 2007 published Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World: Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World has written about the global impact of August 1.

In her 2010 published Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada, African Canadian author Natasha Henry has researched and written about the history of August 1 celebrations throughout Canada including the connection of Caribana (modeled on Trinidad’s carnival) to Emancipation Day.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago was the first of the former British Caribbean countries to declare August 1 a National holiday in 1985.

In 1997 the Caribbean Historical Society (CHS) of Trinidad and Tobago, supported by the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) advocated for global recognition of August 1st as Emancipation Day.

The OBHS has been successful in gaining recognition of August 1st as Emancipation Day at the Municipal and Provincial level and close to gaining recognition at the Federal level.

On August 1st the OBHS will host an Emancipation Day event at Nathan Philips Square.

[re/posted]scribbles from the den

When the idea was first hatched to put forward South Africa’s candidacy for the 2010 World Cup, it seemed a far-fetched dream. And when FIFA actually awarded the tournament to South Africa, it was, in the view of many, a gamble destined to fail. However, after six years of turmoil, controversy and acrimony later, South Africa is finally set for the 2010 World Cup tournament.

For the next month, (legitimate) concerns about the financial toll of the tournament on South Africa’s economy, the absence of concrete benefits for large swathes of the South African population, or about FIFA’s stifling rules will be put on the backburner as the world enjoys the beautiful game.

Dori Moreno

Dori Moreno is one of those unapologetically afflicted by ‘World Cup Fever’:

I have been waiting for the World Cup to arrive ever since the announcement was made that it would be hosted in South Africa. It’s difficult to get excited about something happening so far into the future. But now, the World Cup is upon us, and in just 2 more sleeps, South Africa will face Mexico in the kick off game of the 2010 World Cup. And South Africa has woken up and is alive with energy, passion and enthusiasm.

 ‘Today, the Bafana Bafana team took to the streets of Sandton, Johannesburg in an open top bus. South African fans came out en masse to celebrate and get a glimpse of their national team. The vibe was indescribable and when the Soweto Marimba Youth League played the national anthem, I confess to being moved to tears from the sheer emotion and energy of the event.


‘I think even the die-hard pessimists out there will struggle not to get caught up in the positive energy that will carry us all on a cloud for the next month. To everyone out there, I say, ENJOY! To all the visitors to our awesome country, feel it, live it and fall in love. It’s time for AFRICA!!!!’

Jeanette Verster’s Photography

And talking about the June 9 ‘United We Stand for Bafana Bafana’ parade organised in Sandton to encourage South Africans to show their support for their national team, Jeanette Verster publishes a colorful picture essay that vividly captures the national excitement.

Brand South Africa Blog

Brand South Africa Blog hopes that the unity and patriotism demonstrated in the run-up to the World Cup will last long after the tournament:

‘The past few months have been an incredible sight. Road works, bridges being built and the most spectacular, the giant eye which watches over all of us from the entrance to the V&A Waterfront. To say I feel proud would really be an understatement, although true. Undeniably through all of this is the tangible feeling of patriotism, excitement and unified spirit in the air.

‘Flags, Zakumi’s (official World Cup mascot), soccer jerseys everywhere makes me feel that we can unite as a country, evident in the progress made.

‘*** I love SA ***

‘The feeling I hope for South Africa is that we stay this way long past the end game is played. Everyone is watching and can see that through working together and progress, we can be pushed into another league and be part of a set of countries people all of the world would like to visit sometime in their life.

‘So, Bafana, we are behind you 150%, make us proud and do your best.

‘Visitors to South Africa, our country is beautiful, take the opportunity to visit places off the beaten track you’ll be pleasantly surprised and p.s. don’t forget to shop!’

Constitutionally Speaking

Even as the excitement builds up, there is anger just beneath the surface over a number of (FIFA-inspired?) decisions which do not benefit South Africans. One such issue is the apparent blanket ban on public gatherings in many municipalities for the duration of the World Cup. Constitutionally Speaking argues that:



‘If this is true, it would mean that parts of South Africa are now effectively functioning under a state of emergency in which the right to freedom of assembly and protest have been suspended. This would be both illegal and unconstitutional. Other reports have suggested that such orders were indeed given, but that the police are now backtracking – probably because the police have realised that they are breaking the law and that the order, in fact, constitutes a grave breach of the law and the Constitution.

‘It is a sad day indeed when the police itself become a threat to our democracy and our rights because Fifa and the government want us all to behave and shut up for the next month and to forget about our democratic rights.’

Scribbles from the Den (and betwixt en between the lines: a video diary of the ‘Q[/t]’ werd)

Scribbles from the Den takes us back 20 years to a memorable World Cup game which is now part of the football folklore and which credited to have changed the World Football Order in favor of African countries:

‘Exactly 20 years ago on June 8, 1990 at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium in Milan, Italy, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, “a humble team with an insignificant past” to quote the Miami Herald, defeated Argentina, the star-studded defending World Champions led by Diego Armando Maradona, in a thrilling Italia ’90 World Cup opening game that came to be known as the “Miracle of Milan”…



‘The victory over Argentina was merely the beginning of Cameroon’s Cinderella story which came to an end only after England ousted the Lions in an epic quarterfinal game that is also part of World Cup folklore. Cameroon’s brilliant run in Italia ’90 in general, and its historic win over Argentina in particular reverberated around the world and changed the Football World Order forever…

‘The aftershocks from that memorable Friday afternoon at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium would be felt years later first with FIFA increasing the number of African teams taking part in the World Cup from two to five, then with the “browning” of European leagues which opened their doors to players from the continent and in the process unearthed African football prodigies such as “King” George Weah of Liberia, Same Eto’o of Cameroon and Didier Drogba of Cote d’Ivoire.’

Up Station Mountain Club

As the football fiesta goes on in South Africa, Charles Taku, a lead counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, wonders whether Africa has any reason to celebrate as many states turn 50:

‘Africa is sick; very sick indeed. It is safe to state that at 50, there is nothing to celebrate. Rather than celebrate, Africa should be engaged in a moment of soul searching to find out where we went wrong and to generate ideas about how to resolve the myriad problems afflicting the continent…



‘There is no gainsaying that Africa is a victim of its colonial heritage. It is also true that many African problems are self inflicted. For that reason, according to Peter Schwab, Africa is its own worst enemy.

‘As Africa enters the second half of the century, there is a compelling need for it to eschew all pretensions to celebration and to use the opportunity of the moment to search for viable solutions to its plethora of problems. Our collective failure enjoins us to do a lot of soul searching at this point of our history rather than celebrate a failed past in anticipation of a bleaker future. Africa and the black race in general need to take their destiny into their own hands once again. Time has come for all black people of this world to invoke the spirits of Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, CLR James, the Osagyefo Mwalimu and others whose mere mention of name give us the inspiration, courage and hope to start all over again, in seeking a path of glory they once laid out for us.

The time to build and improve on what they started for our collective survival in a mercilessly competitive world is now. Waiting for dictators that preside over the destiny of most of the continent at present to pave that path to glory is simply foolhardy, if not suicidal.”



Kumekucha

Kumekucha explains how he believes the ruling elite plan to rig the August Referendum for the proposed new Kenyan Constitution:

‘Folks I am afraid that I have more bad news for you concerning the new constitution most of us are yearning for. Let me start by confessing that for a person with my years of experience I was rather naïve to believe that those who own Kenya would ever allow for an electoral system that they did not have any control over. The truth is that the so called “tamper-proof” electoral roll has already been tampered with and non-existent voters introduced. And since it is NOT the same electoral roll that we will go to the general elections with, the only conclusion is that the intention is to rig the August 4th Referendum.

‘The game plan by the powerful owners of Kenya is for the NO camp to catch up with the YES majority so that the difference is around 20% or less. What will then happen is that NO will win with a very slim majority. Enough to deny most Kenyans what they are yearning for so much that they can no longer sleep too well. Those wh o have read the document and realize the sweeping changes it will bring into the country and the deadly blow it will deal to impunity.

‘What really scares me is that so far these powerful forces have been able to get things done through the NSIS and have even influenced the judiciary to make certain bizarre rulings. To me that is evidence enough that they are quite capable of going ahead with their well laid plan even as the president tires himself crisscrossing the country campaigning for a new constitution.’


BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Dibussi Tande blogs at Scribbles from the Den.

 

blogger’s note: I know (many) stories of super/s/heroes that are changing tings on the ground in their communities….

The Q werd is starting with the ones that we’re familiar with, because if we don’t cherish en honour our own, then who will (do it better)?

Until we listen to the lionesses, the tales of hunting will be weak,

These are some of the (many) stars of the Q werd. The people are real. Na hadithi ni kweli pia….leo ni ya Millicent Gaika, Anelisa Mfo na Ndumie Funda of LulekiSizwe LBT

check out http://www.lulekisizwe.com 

 

A lesbian was allegedly beaten and raped repeatedly for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”.

With both eyes swollen and bruised, stitches above her left eye and open wounds on her neck, Millicent Gaika, 30, of Gugulethu, haltingly told how a man she had known for years attacked and raped her repeatedly on Friday night. Her voice was husky from screaming.

Gaika alleged her attacker “acted like an animal who wanted to kill”.

He has been arrested and will appear in the Philippi Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

On Friday just after 10pm Gaika and her friends were walking home after spending the evening at a friend’s house in NY1. As they approached their home, a man, one of many tenants on the site, apparently asked Gaika for a cigarette.

She stayed to smoke with him while her friends walked on. A few minutes later, the man refused to pass the cigarette to Gaika and walked into his room.

When she followed him he allegedly locked the door. “He started hitting me and I fought back. Then he started doing what he did to me. He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He did it more than once. He was holding me down, strangling me and pushing his hands hard on to my neck.

“I thought he was going to kill me; he was like an animal. And he kept saying: ‘I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.'”

Gaika said the man had never openly objected to her sexuality before. “He was very nice to me – I’d known him for years. I hate him now. I am just angry. I was swearing at him while he was doing this to me. I just wished I could die. I hate what he has done, he makes me sick.”

About 4am, after five hours of Gaika being raped, a neighbour knocked on the man’s door and demanded to know who was in the room with him.

A friend of Gaika’s who asked not to be named said: “The neighbour heard something and he insisted that the man open the door. Then he broke the window and the two men started fighting. Other neighbours came and eventually broke down the door and saw what was happening. The rapist wanted to run away, but we kept him there until the police came. Millicent was on the bed. She was only wearing her sweater and it was full of blood.”

The attack was not the first one. After she was raped by four men in 2002, Gaika told herself that it would never happen again and got her life back on track.

 Gaika said the four men had been convicted and were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years. “But after a few years, they got out and that was too little time… I saw them walking around here in Gugulethu again. I was angry but I got through it and I wasn’t scared. But this time it was worse, much worse. Now I am scared, I don’t trust men. I don’t know if I am ever going to be okay after this because I thought I was going to die.”

Ndumi Funda, the founder and director of Lulekisiswe Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women’s Project in Nyanga, was at Gaika’s house (yesterday) and said she was “deeply hurt and traumatised” by the news.

“This needs to be stopped. We know of so many that this happens to and nothing is done about it. How many more young lesbian women must die?”

The project was formed more than two years ago and has various awareness programmes. It also has a centre to help women like Gaika.

It was started after Funda’s fiancee and other lesbians they knew died of Aids-related illnesses; they had contracted HIV in homophobic attacks.

Last month, Weekend Argus reported that the rape and murder of gays and lesbians had taken on “crisis proportions” and was not restricted to townships.

According to a report by international group ActionAid, there were reports of 10 new cases of lesbians being raped every week in Cape Town alone.

Gugulethu police spokesman Captain Elliot Sinyangana confirmed the incident and said a 40-year-old man had been arrested.

He will remain in custody until his court appearance.

Written by melanie Nathan in San Francisco

http://lezgetreal.com/?p=31434

 

blogger’s note: corrective rape, out here in the West, is usually associated with South Africa, and conjures talk on the discrimination & fear that African lesbians face in their lives, couched in human rights frameworks en (not-so) critical analysis …..there are very few I’ve talked with who’ve  associated the term with say, Pride Toronto, but I think what they’re doing to queers of Afrikan descent is, depending on one’s subjective perspective ofcourse, is worse.

bredrin (one of the warriors who’s featured in the Q werd) posted on facebook recently….. Pride Toronto doesn’t give a fuck about black people. And I say, amen! to that. 

See when (the devil in) the man was ‘allegedly’ assaulting Millicent Gaika, he ripped her apart like he said he wanted to, he told her exactly what he thought, that he wanted to turn her into a woman, that she was a slut, he fucking RAPED her, en it’s ‘signified’ as corrective. At least we know him for the devil that he is….and we can agree, without a doubt, that shit ain’t kosher.

Now Pride Toronto, that’s a much more sinister story, a case of  devils we know masque(e)rading as leaders of the community, hardly even bothering with camouflage, a corporate-ized story of class divides and white supremacist ideologies  that are couched in token nominations [read: as necessary as Victor Mukasa’s nomination last year was its rendered superfluous by all the ways that the Committee HASN’T  come through for the queer/trans Afrikan communities in Tdot…….like, look at the ongoing dispute over Blockorama, and we’ll definitely be talking back about  OUR experiences at Pride last year]

The truth is, most of the organising for queer/trans rights in Afrika is being done by people of Afrikan descent, and there are still many gaps to be filled, and conscious allies to be recruited.

For many in the movement on the continent, the issues are simpler and  more direct, than the fragmented post-modern queer theorising dykes en fags who will systematically get paid way more (en creatively) to sustain their professional queer-ism.

For many of us on the continent,  it’s a matter of being able to survive while doing this work, as in concretely (as necessary as it is for more afrikans to take up space in discourse on gender & sexuality), no lengthy dissertations on the wear en tear on the soul or preferred acronyms in our rainbow soup of identities.  We need food to eat, money to travel from Point A to C (en back again), safe spaces, allies who are willing to do hard work themselves, we need to be decriminalised and protected by the State, and our issues need to be framed in our own words.  And as necessary as all the talk is, to make it plain, we need more than empathy, encouragement, tolerance or worse yet, charity & sympathy.

And we are not JUST advocating for queer/trans rights, many (more) of us are struggling for the liberation of ALL Afrikan peoples, and it’s been critically analysed to heaven and back….we need to work on our OWN  unity first. Fafanua.

Drawing attention to oneself is an act of courage and one that cannot be emphasized enough, especially if the victim is one whose rape is termed   “corrective rape” where the odds are, that the victim could be re-victimized again and again.  Years ago, Lesbians would never have come forward to tell their stories, but now with the unrelenting support and loving assistance from an extraordinary human being, Ndumie Funda, a lesbian woman living in a South African Township, near Cape Town, women and lesbians are telling their stories, willing to be named, photographed and to stand up on our pages to say:- “This is what happened to me!”

In 2007, Anelisa Mfo then a 23 year old lesbian mother from Emkonto, an informal settlement in South Africa, was walking in along a street in Nyanga when she was attacked by a man who pointed a gun at her yelling “slut ,bitch” –while he brutally raped her with a gun to her head.  Anelisa is agreeable to her name being published and story being told. There are many heroes in this story…

Anelisa together with two friends courageously identified and pursued charges and the perpetrator was caught and sent to prison for ten years.  After her HIV test proved negative in a country where HIV/AIDS is epidemic, Anelisa felt much relief even though still suffering from the cruelty of the crime.   While Anelisa was dealing with this trauma she had no idea that her five year old daughter was also raped in the Eastern Cape, by her sister’s boyfriend.

At the time Anelisa had no shelter, no employment, no money, no job, was disowned by her family because of her sexuality and a child who suffered so unimaginably.

In September, 2008, on the anniversary of her attack, Anelisa tried to kill herself. She poured paraffin over her entire whole body and set herself alight.

When LulekiSizwe LBT, Womyns Project, which had recently formed to help lesbian victims of rape, heard about her story the small unfunded group ran to the hospital in JOOSTER, where Anelisa lay clinging to life in an ICU, with no friends and no family to help.

“Because we don’t have resources yet we went to Triangle Project , they help us with counseling for Anelisa and her daughter pay for transport for Ndumie and Anelisa to travel to hospital and food parcel,” Ndumie Funda, founding Director of LulekiSizwe, informed Lezgetreal.  “We then approached IAM for a shelter and they were also a good help. Now the tough part comes who can look after her? There was no one, but I have looked her since that day,” said Ndumie the director of LulekiSizwe LBT volunteered herself to look after Anelisa.    “Like a nurse doing everything for her, feeding, cooking, washing Anelisa and her laundry- not to forget the good team of us that we have at LulekiSizwe LBT every day to relieve me.”

We received donations from the straight community at the time and so we could hire a nurse who was also helping with the dressings.

“Now,” says Ndumie, “Through prayers and care, Anelisa has recovered from her burns and has her daughter with her. We are currently trying to get some funding to get Anelisa and her daughter a home.”

Anelisa is breathing through a pipe – she cannot use her nose anymore – this is the very sad story of ANELISA.

Donations for LulekeSizwe to –

c/o Melanie Nathan
nathan@privatecourts.com
Private Courts, Inc
P.O. Box  1108
Woodacre, CA 94973

to be continued……kesho, on resistance from the margins

Blogger’s note: hadithi? hadithi? Nipe mji? Nilirudi nyumbani, coz home is where the heart is, en I was blessed to learn (more) from babas (of Afrika) that spoke (big) love en truth, like Amilcar Cabral, Baba Tajudeen, Cheikh Anta Diop, Dedan Kimathi, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Elijah Masinde, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, Ngugi wa Thiong’o,…there are many kings (in the Q werd)….this post is from one of them……..

a non-fictional short story by Onyango Oloo

http://demokrasia-kenya.blogspot.com/2010/04/yes-from-apathetic-facebook-20.html 

 Claire M is a beautiful, ebony complexioned, twenty-something petit-bourgeois British accented Kenyan employee of a certain tech firm who commutes daily between her middle class neighbourhood in Nairobi’s east end and her posh upscale office in the capital city’s west end.

She is also a very good friend of mine.

Vivacious should be her middle name, so effervescent is Claire’s good natured spirit.

We met purely by happenstance about two and a half fortnights ago.

There she was, slightly after ten in the pm, sitting next to me on the Number 33 matatu on a Furahiday, Embakasi bound.

A spontaneous conversation sprung up in a matter of minutes and within days we were certified Facebook friends who turned out to be residing within mere hectares and baby wails of each other.

A few days ago, I hooked up with her and one of her girl friends for an evening after work beer sip upstairs at the Verandah, across the street from the Stanley-the old Cameo cinema for old Nairobi hands.

In the course of our random chat, she casually mentioned that she had seen my status update on Facebook urging Kenyans to vote Yes come the Referendum on the proposed new constitution.

“I am NOT voting and YOU can’t make ME!” she declared with an air of finality which startled me, being totally unexpected.

I didn’t even know she had seen my earnest online constitutional exhortation in the first place.

“Remember the last time in 2007, I woke up very early in the morning and voted for Raila and look what happened! We Kenyans started killing each other! Over WHAT? I am NOT voting for ANYONE! And you can’t FORCE me!”

Yawa Maembe”, I tried to butt in, gently pointing out that this time around Kenyans were not voting for anyone, just for the long sought after constitution, twenty years in the making and stained with our blood, sweat and tears.

“Well, the only person I will be voting for is the Man Upstairs. And in case you didn’t know, the world is COMING TO AN END. All the signs are there.

Have you looked at

Jay-Z’s latest CD?

Or wondered why Beyoncé Giselle Knowles calls herself

Sasha Fierce these days?

How about that thing with Kanye West and Taylor Swift?

or Rihanna’s new outfit?

There you go.”

Let me hasten to add that Claire M is perfectly SANE and quite intelligent, in case you were wondering.

At this point she reached deep deep into one of those humungous mobile ward robes that women call handbags these days

and fished out a slim volume with a silky, smooth, soft, shiny glossy black cover featuring a smiling handsome African man on the cover.

The booklet was captioned He is Coming.

I think the author was referring to the world famous dreadlocked Holy Nazarene nicknamed JC, but the image was more reminiscent of one of those Nollywood hunks that litter our television screens and have taken over our DVDs these days.

“You see this?” she said, thumping mercilessly on the poor innocent book.

“It is all in HERE. Tell him Sheila!” she said, turning to her bemused best friend who had been staring, wide mouthed, as this delirious conversation unfolded amid quaffs of this or that variety of Kenyan malt product among the trio of us.

“I am not particularly religious”, I offered, meekly.

“The last time I stepped into an actual Church to formally worship was waaay back in May or June 1982”, I explained, shocking Claire M, who was not even conceived back then when

Shalamar,Ray Parker Jr, Odyssey, The Whispers, Kool and the Gang, Lakeside,

and the Gibson Brothers ruled the world’s disco floors with their curly kits, afros, box tops, bomber jackets and tight jeans-the future Retro/Old Skool gear and wear of decades to come.

Earth, Wind and Fire

“You mean you DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD???!!!”

Reluctant to start another raging, never ending Kenyan sectarian edition of the Crusades right there at the Verandah-a veritable den of iniquity if I ever saw one- I carefully skirted the religious inquisition, side-stepping a possible urban, nocturnal lynching at the hands of an irate, determined and capable potential Kenyan female executioner by reverting back to the need for a Yes vote among all Kenyans with a functioning brain.

“Well, like I said, WE are NOT voting, are WE, Sheila?” Claire M hissed defiantly, turning to her hapless bosom buddy for solidarity and assurance.

“And you can write that on that BLOG of yours! And tell the WORLD that Claire M said SO! It is NO for ME and THAT is THAT!”

“Are you SURE????!!”

I tried to verify, knowing how far around the world the Kenya Democracy Project blog travels these days.

This morning I got an update from my Neo website counter which informed me that the blog had reached 11,950 cities in 186 countries around this

Blue Marble.

“Yes! And I am waiting to read it!”

So Claire M, in sunny Nairobi, here you go.

You did insist and demand that I put your views on this blog of mine.

And I am sending you a link via my Facebook wall so you can read this on your mobile phone my Kenyan digital sister. I will also email you the URL so that you can carefully jot down the put downs and rebuttals for our next Verandah soiree.

My generation and this Twittered, Digged, RSS Word Pressed Facebooked Twenty First Century Viral Marketed Kenyan Generation of Claire, Sheila and Co. Ltd are Worlds Apart I tell you.

It is like Mercury and Uranus.

Back in the 1980s-Yes, when David Onyango Oloo was still a deceptively innocent looking, fresh faced, slim, twenty something student cum political prisoner and not this bloated twenty first century Kenyan Rip Van Freaking Winkle with sprinkles of salt on my head and chin- it was a badge of honour among the Kenyan youth to be political, to be conscious, to be democratic, to be patriotic, to be militant, to be vigilant, to be a voter.

These were the days of Daniel arap Moi and his side kicks like Okiki Amayo, Kariuki Chotara, Mulu Mutisya, Jackson Angaine, Ezekiel Bargentuny, Sharrif Nassir, Philip Leakey, Stanley Oloitiptip, Krishan Gautama and John Joseph Kamotho.

The days of one party rule.

The days of detention without trial.

The days of the one finger salute.

Not that finger you are thinking of.

The KANU one finger is what I am talking about.

The days of silence, the days of terror and the days of fear.

The days of Fuata Nyayo.

The days of KANU Tawala, Tawala.

The days of fake peace, counterfeit love and non-existent unity.

And also the days of defiant university student demonstrations and courageous lecturers’ symposia.

Not to forget fearless editorials.

The era of George Anyona and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The hey days of Willy Mutunga, Al-Amin Mazrui, Micere Mugo, James Orengo and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

The political coming age of the Njeri Kabeberis and Mwandawiro Mghangas.

Some university students declared in public kamkunjis that it was time for Kenya to be ruled by Marxist-Leninists.

Others were abducted off trains to be charged with sedition because they had dared to draft in their hand written chicken scrawl, earnest essays about the role of youth in fighting for democracy and justice in this country.

Still others were thrown down flights of stairs by angry secret police torturers for celebrating the attempted overthrow of the Moi dictatorship.

Back in those seemingly long forgotten days, Kenyan youth, Kenyan students, Kenyan post-independence patriots yearned passionately to kick the status quo’s hind quarters swiftly, repeatedly and viciously.

Back in those yesteryears, Kenyan students and youth spoke out loudly in protest when spooky sycophantic fascist neo-colonial comprador politicians led by our current septuagenarian head of state wanted to declare Kenya a de jure one party dictatorship.

And back then, there were no cell phones, leave alone the internet, forget email accounts, scratch Messenger, ICQ, online forums, chat rooms, Facebook or Twitter.

Back in that recent technological Stone Age, when you spoke of a telephone you was either referring to an old gloomy looking black contraption which had a PADLOCK firmly attached to it or a relative of the same intimidating device trapped in an outdoor cage, looking like a forlorn statue which required you to feed it with numerous coins if you wanted to talk to anyone for a few hurried minutes- at the top of your lungs, obliviously unaware that science and technology had already carefully considered your vocally needs to communicate clearly and therefore taken care of the volume and modulation functions in that teleinstrument.

But we were MORE networked and pumped up those days-politically speaking that is.

If there had been a proposed draft constitution waiting to be passed as the country’s supreme document, Kenya’s militant and patriotic youth would have already formed kilometre long queues, snaking around entire villages-urban and rural- to vote YES, YES, YES! months before the actual referendum!

What a contrast that generation of mine is to the apathetic, blasé, cynical, bored out of their skulls, hip hopping techno Kenyan chini kwa chini ohangla wiggling genge kapukaring smoked out dazed raggamuffins of the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten who have more passion for Arsenal and Man U than for freedom or socialism; Kenyan youth who know more about the subliminal Satanic sub texts in Rihanna’s latest dress than which reproductive rights side to take on the raging debate about where life begins; Kenyan youth who can recite the last 98 minutes of the last episode of Lord Of The Rings or the 23rd Season of Sex in the City verbatim from their photographic memories while being totally clueless about the actual contents of the Bill of Rights in our new constitution; Kenyan youth who can tell you the exact alcohol percentage in a bottle of Kingfisher or Smirnoff Red, but totally blank out when you ask them about what percentage women of seats have been allocated in the projected Senate chamber.

Do I sound harsh, bitter, angry, judgmental?

You tell me.

Forgive me for this Cardinal Sin of having seen Better Scenes for Kenyan Youth in this very country, in this, my very own pays natal.

But frankly some of us, aging grey beards, the Kenyan youth of yesteryears, expect more, much, much more, from our younger siblings, cousins, nephews, nieces, and for some of us now delving into our fifth decade of existence, our own sons and daughters.

We expect them to reap the harvest of our blood stained youthful endeavours for a more democratic dispensation.

We expect them to be more emboldened about defending our social justice gains.

We expect them to be more conscious than us, their prehistoric predecessors.

And yes, Claire M, that is why I expect YOU to VOTE YES for the new constitution come the referendum.

And I am talking to you too, Sheila.

But first, you have to register as voters my two Kenyan sisters.

And you can do it electronically these days you know.

So Claire M, there you have it.

You did ask me to write this, didn’t you?

Onyango Oloo

Nairobi, Kenya

 blogger’s note: braap! and those are the confessions of an angry afrikan baba, I hear where he’s coming from, those are my peers he’s talking about, apathy seems to be/coming a hall mark of our generation, but if you know where to look, then you will find those youth fulfilling the mission of their times…

 The truth according to makmende is……

blogger’s note: this is a spoof of a spoof of very serious matters. It is definitely not to be taken as the gospel truth of afrikan liberation, then again what is the truth of our freedom?…..FUN.damentalism na hadithi that affirm OUR power….

the beauty about stories is that WE re/tell them, en we change/d them, en we can re/vision almost  any parts  we want.

 The crux is (in) manifest.ing the truth en re/build.ing with others, much easier said than practised.

Like, all jokes aside, I love where Makmende comes from ( and if at this point you’re still wondering who makmende is, then this post isn’t for you), I love that he’s one of our own, a uniquely urban Kenyan (Afrikan) meme, en a super hero by most accounts.

But, seriously, what would makmende really do to the ‘bad guys’? and just who are the ‘bad guys’? and if Hitler’s having a near makmende experience, then shouldn’t Bush, Raila, Kibaki, Pattni, Kiplagat, en many many ‘others’ jus go hang themselves with tissue paper?

Because we sho’ as hell working hard on exploiting en breaking so many more of US down in private en in public, much more it would seem than figuring out this whole damu ni mzito kuliko maji thing….a concept that’s rendered alien when we deny kin/dred…..

what’s funny, sad, en much deeper than we can imagine are the connecshuns we share through our relationship to Afrikan/ness…..in the end, just a band, for all your hating on the ‘queers’ among us, you’re jus as bad as my ‘girlfriend’, a new Afrikan, (Goddess knows I love, respekt en admire her but she also has this divisive notion that she was taught) like many others  who insist that what they REALLY  are is African AMERICAN……to each their own, but  the question remains, what to do bout our own ?

is it really just enough to rewrite the script of white supremacist ideologues  with hateful/misguided beliefs of another flavour?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, these are the responses of an angry  Afrikan woman……one who’s laughed at en being inspired by the makmende videos, but who is definitely NOT  satisfied with the caricatures drawn of me en my sistas………I am NOT  Abscondita, Britannia Zimeisha, or one of Godfrey’s Laydayz, so technically I really don’t have no place passing judgement on their representations, I would love to hear THEIR  stories…..and I am definitely not (bigger than) makmende, so I submit to the power of the people speaking through griots, messengers, teachers en  facebook & youtube ratings.

All I have is a request, dear just a band, hadithi? Hadithi? Kitendawili? Would you tell me another story?

Like the true true legends of…..

Coz I love where you’re going with this, I been on this path many times before, so I suspect where we’re liable to get lost in the forest of black  nationalism & neo colonialist regimes. Do you think we may be missing the mark on the heart of the matter? If it’s love for our cultures, then is it really manifest? Do we even have to go across the oceans en use foreign scripts for our own purposes, are we not rich enough with our own?

From one (urban) Afrikan to another, do you think that (all jokes aside) WE are the problem?

I know there are so many more stories that we have, we know that we’ve denied many of them, even our sheng, the very language you use to re/tell makmende’s story, is divided along class/tribe lines, we all  KNOW the markers, but are we really manifest.ing our true true powers? is the current version of makmende really the best we can do?

If there’s many more pieces that I’m missing to the story about makmende’s  return, then please tell me me those bits, boss,  coz you got me hooked, but there really is plenty of fish in the ocean, so I’m prepared to swim with dolphins, en even on the back of a whale, anywhere to get to paradise….en I would prefer ogun or shango’s story any day to your (version of) makmende

a warrior by any other name

As many props as I give to the kings (en queens?) of just a band, I am still that ‘angry’ Afrikan woman who is NOT satisfied with the ‘latest’ picture, en is willing to work with my bredrin en sistren to change it, all the betta for us to build solidarity with……..

by any means necessary

so dear just a band, do you think you could change the script, to start just remove the ‘ushoga’  is the cause of our downfall parts……it’s a strategically homophobic en sinister connection that you’re drawing between sexuality and  the destruction of the ‘oppressors’, one that divides even comrades en families.

I am not Makmende’s enemy, yet in your video you try to make me one, and in your pieces, the enemy was supposed to be white supremacist ideologies, or was that just a matter of false advertising? Askyua mutha black militants en black sahara are really a big big joke, na tena, ka wahenga, nauliza je, hii ni ungwana? Again, is makmende really jus a spoof? will the ‘real’ revolutionary please stand up?

you see, Makmende is real because (s)he comes from the people, en dear just a band, not one person or group can  have  a copyright on makmende….so, I may not be able to take all your jokes, I may be taking this whole makmende goes after hitler thing too personally, and  too seriously, I may need to chillax with the whole defending queer rights thing…..but if I don’t name my anger then who will? En if you don’t take it seriously then who will?

Why even waste our time repeating the oppressor’s lies? Kitendawili? Mavi ya kuku ni….? and it don’t matter how much honey you pile on IT en laughter that you produce from IT…..what’s not true is…..new, en ushoga is as old as mama afrika herself…so why not just focus on what we need to re/member (about the ways of our ancestors) to move forward, en share some of OUR true true stories……

like the kinda shit that you just don’t have to make up

Dear just a band, we have much more in common than many would assume…….the beauty of makmende, is like the purloined letter, it’s an open secret that only a ‘nairobian’ can truly appreciate, en that all Afrikans should be able to translate…. makmende IS  bigger than just a band, congratulations!  You have achieved what you wanted en worked for…revived a legend through the creative use of media………now what?

makmende oh

What will makmende do next?

delivered by Ossie Davis at the funeral of Malcolm X
Faith Temple Church Of God
February 27,1965

“Here – at this final hour, in this quiet place – Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes -extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought – his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are – and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again – in Harlem – to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought her, and have defended her honor even to the death.

It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us – unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to : Afro-American – Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a ‘Negro’ years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted – so desperately – that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans too.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain – and we will smile. Many will say turn away – away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man – and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate – a fanatic, a racist – who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: ‘My journey’, he says, ‘is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.’ However we may have differed with him – or with each other about him and his value as a man – let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.

Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man – but a seed – which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is – a Prince – our own black shining Prince! – who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”

malcolm x.aka. el hajj malik el shabazz.

born as malcolm little on may 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska.

gunned down on february 21, 1965.

from an interview with milton henry

Yes, this is one thing that I have learned since being out of the Black Muslim movement. It’s difficult to look at a thing through the narrow scope of an organizational eye ofttimes and see it in its proper perspective. If the various groups in America had been less selfish and had permitted different representatives from the groups to travel into foreign countries, and broaden their own scope, and come back and educate the movements they represented, not only would this have made the groups to which they belonged more enlightened and more worldly in the international sense, but it also would have given the independent African states abroad a better understanding of the groups in the United States, and what they stand for, what they represent.
In my opinion, a very narrow, backward, almost childish approach has been made by the groups in the United States, and especially the religious groups; very narrow minded. Whenever you belong to a group that just can’t work with another group, then that group itself is selfish. Any group, any group that can’t work with all other groups, if they are genuinely interested in solving the problems of the Negro collectively why, I don’t think that that group is really sincerely motivated toward reaching a solution. This Organization of African Unity, this summit conference, is the best example of what can be accomplished when people come together and their motives aren’t selfish…………if they are sincere, it is easy for them to get together……. 

ase.ase.ase.ase……

…..I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.

Check dis!

that fateful day…it’s not far away