hadithi ya  [remixed excerpts from sassafrass,cypress and indigo by Ntozake Shange]

…& she layed up nights readin’ herstories of ancient civilizations that were closer to her than all that stuff abt England & the wars of the roses. She wrote songs of love & vindication for all the afrikan & indian deities disgraced by the comin of the white man/& loss of land/& cities reflectin’ respect for livin’ things.

“ i yam sassafrass/my fingers behold you i call upon you with my song you teach me in my sleep…”

Cypress opened up a large stained-glass box and pulled out four finely embroidered pieces of cloth.

“Hey, Miz Weaver…Sassafrass.  These are my inheritances for some children I don’t have yet.”

Sassafrass looked over, and saw blocks of minute figures and arrows and circles in different colours. Cypress became terribly excited while she explained that each of the cloths was a complete notation of a dance developed from her own experiences in de Kushites Returned. Sassafrass checked that de stitches were even en de designs exceedingly intricate.

“Cypress, if de white folks knew you were doin’ dis, they’d steal all of it and put it in a museum!”

Cypress was wallowing in Sassafrass’ appreciative statement when she recalled what their mama had said: “whatever ideas you have that’re important to you, write down…but write them so your enemies can’t understand them right off.”

Feeling triumphant, Sassafrass en Cypress did the time step down Fulton Street.

At de bus stop, de two sistas enjoyed one mo childhood pastime: singing rhythm & blues; first, Tina Turner’s “I’m Just a Fool, You Know I’m in Love” and then de Marvelettes: “I saida look, look, heah comes the postman, twistin’ down de avenue…he’s gotta lettah in his hand, an’ I know it’s gotta be from you-who ooooooo” And Cypress announced plans for a whoop-la get-down after the show at her house, with lots of good wine and good, good food. Like maybe……..

Three C’s: Cypress’ Curried Crabmeat

2 tbls vegetable oil                                                                           pinch of cinnamon

1 onion, chopped                                                                             pinch of ground cloves

1 fresh green chilli pepper (seeds removed)                          pinch ground cardamom

½ tsp grated ginger                                                                         2tbls chopped parsley

¼ tsp turmeric                                                                                   2tbls lemon juice

Heat vegetable oil and fry onion until soft. Add chilli pepper and ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, and fry for 3 minutes, sprinkling with wota to avoid burning. Add crabmeat and salt to taste. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and chopped parsley. (serves 4)

 

My Mama & Her Mama ‘Fore Her: Codfish cakes (Accra)

4 ounces salt fish (cod)                                                                  1 small onion, chopped

2 cups flour                                                                                         ¼ tsp black pepper

1tsp dried yeast                                                                                1 ½ cups warm wota

2 blades chives, chopped                                                              1 tsp suga

 

Put yeast en suga in bowl with ½ cup wota, en set aside. Soak fish for ½ hr, remove skin en  bone. Pound fish, chives, onion, en pepper until very fine. Sift flour with yeast mixture and add rest of wota; stir until a soft batter is formed. Let stand in a warm place. Add fish mixture en beat for 2-3 minutes. Spoon fish into smoking oil. Drain, and serve with hot floats.

 

De Floats Be-fore de Fish

1 pound flour                                                                     1 tsp dried yeast

4 ounces shortening                                                       1 tsp suga

 1 ½ tsp salt                                                                         warm wota

Mix yeast, suga and a little wota in bowl en set aside for a few minutes. Sift flour en salt together; add shortening, yeast mixture, en enough wota to makea soft dough. Knead until smooth. Put to rise in a warm place for 2 hrs or until dough has doubled. Punch down. Knead again, cut dough into small pieces, en roll pieces into balls. Put to rise again for 20 minutes. Flatten balls out to 1/8-inch thickness en fry in smoking hot oil. Drain en serve hot.

Cypress’ Sweetbread: The Goodness

Use any kind of cornmeal, add cooked beans and mashed sweet potatoes, baking soda, salt, a dash of cinnamon, en ¼ cup honey. Cook in pan as ordinary cornbread. Eat hot or cold 

Deep drumming is heard from di street; folks turn their head backwards. The Kushites Returned leap, sweep down the aisles, silk cloth flies in the air gleaming with silver threads, the painted dancers burst through di darkness….the dancers had been in the aisles doing modern black Amerikan contractions and slides and swivels and things, and now they were all ancient en Afrikan…it’s so magic folks feel their own ancestors comin up out of di earth to be in di realms of their descendants; they feel di blood of their mothers still flowing in them, survivors of di diaspora…en all of Afrika is thundering in di air.

The audience doesn’t exist; everybody is moving, all is not lost. Cypress laughed as she samba’d to di exit….

Sassafrass wanted to know everyone, but everyone was dancing so hard, until Ariel arrived in a white satin robe en a silver and lapis headpiece. Then something holy and quiet started happening, and folks began talking to each other….and Sassafrass wandered in Cypress’ world….

It was day. It was time to dance, no matter what…

Braided lady of subway scents & magic


Rings in nose & wrists/music in di style of di islands

Lacin di trains dancing in di tunnels of hades

Ka-jungle-jingle-ka jungle juju

In damp downtown nites of love/di secrets of muscles used

Lights cajoling the tense spring of calves jumpin/space

Taken by di rippling womanness of yr back/

Do as you please/afrikan lady roaming los campos

Of di lower east side/caresses you with fried plantains

& drummers stealing corners for di winds to lift you

To di sun’s scant ray/lyric lady/dance di original dance

The original aboriginal dance of all time/challenge di contradiction of perfected pirouette with di sly knowin of hips that do-right/stretch till all di stars en sands of all our lands abandoned/mingle in di wet heat/sweat & grow warm/must be she di original aboriginal dancing gyal….

Someone found her. Another woman in a red tunic took her to an official place inside di grey world, where she was introduced as a survivor. Di leader, di queen, di reigning glory of dis community was a tall woman with red hair who welcomed Cypress and kept saying she would be safe…

Drums, drums. Drums, welcoming di faithful. Pulling them to move to dance. Shango conquered di forests. All human challengers. When Sassafrass hit di door, di smells overcame her. Incense, smoke, whiskey, rice&beans, lamb curry, honey…one by one di followers went to Shango’s mountain of apples to pray & reveal their most secret desires.

When Sassafrass lay flat on her stomach before Shango’s bounty, di seven holy ones laid hands on her. Sassafrass was blessed. She’d risen off di floor…she prayed that she might have a child. You leave your palms open that di gifts of di goddesses might have a place in your life….she prayed. She wove cloth, not thinking who it was for. She’d fallen from grace.

Mama Mbewe, Mama Sumara, Mama Iyabode passed chickens over her all nite. In the morning, she saw a vision of her mama. She lay on a bed of oranges, surrounded by burnin yellow candles, eating honey.

“I think I’m going to carry these spirits right on home. I guess I live in looms after all. Making tings: some cloth and one child, jus’ one.” [or a couple mo’…]

hadithi reposted na overflowin upendo from a kitabu called Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo

When she moved, she went to her looms

Making cloth, being a woman & longin

To be of di earth

A rooted blues

Some ripe berries

Happenin inside

Spirits

in di spaces between cape town en tdot

Walking in a dirt road

Toes dusted & free

Faces movin windy

Brisk like

Dawn round

Gingham windows &

Opened eyes

Reelin to days

Ready-made

Nature’s image

I’m rejoicing

With a throat deep

Shout & slow

Like a river

Gatherin

Space

I yam sassafrass/a weaver’s daughta/from Charleston/i’m a woman makin cloth like all good women do/ di moon’s daughta made cloth/di gold array of di sun/di moon’s daughta sat all nite/spinnin…..

i’m a weaver with my sistas from any earth & fields/we always make cloth/love our children/honour our men/who protect us from our enemies/we prepare altars & anoint candles to offer our devotion to our guardians/we proffer hope/& food to eat/clothes to wear/wombs to fill…

Sassafrass had neva wanted to weave, she just couldn’t help it. there was something about di feel of raw fleece and finished threads en dainty patterned pieces that was as essential to her as dancing is to Carmen DeLavallade, or singing to Aretha Franklin….Sassafrass was certain of di necessity of her skill for di wellbeing of women everywhere, as well as for her own…..

Sassafrass wished on flowers/di flight patterns of birds/di angle of leaves fallin/….she wrote songs of love & vindication for all di afrikan & indian deities disgraced by di comin of di white man/& loss of land/& cities reflectin’ respect for livin’ things.

“i yam sassafrass/ my fingers behold you i call upon you with my song you teach me in my sleep/i yam not a besieger of yr fortress/ i yam a crusader/for you are all my past/ i offer you my body to make manifest your will in dis dungeon of machines & Carolina blues/i wanna sing yr joy/& make present your beauty/spirits/black & brown/find yr way thru my tainted blood/make me one of yr own/i yam your child in di new world/i am yr fruit/yet to be chosen for a single battle on yr behalf/come to & thru me/i yam dazzled by yr beneficence i shall create new altars/new praises & be ancient among you/”  

[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.

 

Preface: Reflections of light

…..In a revolutionary manner, black women have utilised mass media (writing, film, video, art, etc.) to offer radically different images of ourselves. These actions have been an intervention. We have also dared to move out of our “place” (that is away from the bottom of everything, the place this society often suggests we should reside). Moving ourselves from manipulatable objects to self-empowered subjects, black women have by necessity threatened the status quo……This challenge to the status quo has generated serious anti-black female backlash that combines fierce racism ( en homophobia) with antifeminism…..this backlash requires that those of us who are aware be ever vigilant in our efforts to educate one another, and all black people, for critical consciousness. Backlash, from whatever source, hurts. It retards and obstructs freedom struggle. Intense attacks help create a context of burnout and despair.  

It is crucial that black women and all our allies in struggle, especially progressive black men, seize the day and renew our commitment to black liberation and feminist struggle….

blogger’s note: I give thanks for the sistas en mamas who pour their heart and soul into practising and teaching balance, truth, justice and love.  So, in honour of African Liberation Day, these healing words are excerpts from sisters of the yam: black women and self recovery by bell hooks & Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. Ase. Ase. Ase. Ase O…..

 In her essay (Eye to Eye), Audre Lorde urges black females to put our struggle to self actualise at the center of our daily life. She taught us,

Learning to love ourselves as black women goes beyond a simplistic insistence that “black is beautiful”. It goes beyond and deeper than the surface appreciation of black beauty, although that is certainly a good beginning.

But if the quest to reclaim ourselves and each other remains there, then we accept another superficial measurement of self, one superimposed upon the old one and almost as damaging, since it pauses at the superficial. Certainly it is no more empowering.

And it is empowerment – our strengthening in the service of ourselves and each other, in the service of our work and future – that will be the result of this pursuit

We have known, and continue to know, the rewards of struggling together to change society so that we can live in a world that affirms the dignity and presence of black womanhood. In many ways Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self Recovery is a manifestation of that joy and an expression of the awareness that we must be ever vigilant – the struggle continues…..

 

 

Introduction: Healing Darkness

Living as we do in a white supremacist capitalist partriachal context that can best exploit us when we lack a firm grounding in self and identity (knowledge of who we are and where we’re coming from), choosing “wellness” is an act of political resistance. Before many of us can effectively sustain engagement in organised resistance struggle, in black liberation movement, we need to undergo a process of self recovery that can heal individual wounds that may prevent us from functioning fully…..

It is important that black people talk to one another, that we talk with friends and allies, for the telling of our stories enables us to name our pain, our suffering and to seek healing…..

I: Seeking After Truth

We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other  until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from each other, the love of black women for each other. But we can practive being gentle with each other by being gentle with that piece of ourselves that is hardest to hold, by giving more to the brave bruised girl child within each of us, by expecting a little less from her gargantuan efforts to excel. We can love her in the light as well as in the darkness, quiet her frenzy towards perfection and encourage her attentions towards fulfillment…as we arm ourselves with ourselves and each other, we can stand toe to toe inside that rigorous loving and begin to speak the IMPOSIBBLE – to one another. The first step toward genuine change. Eventually, if we speak the truth to each other, it will become unavoidable to ourselves.

Audre Lorde, “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger”

Healing takes place within us as we speak the truth of our lives….commitment to truth telling is thus the first step in any process of self recovery…telling the truth about one’s life is not simply about naming the “bad” things, exposing horrors. It is also about being able to speak openly and honestly about feelings, about a variety of experiences. It is fundamentally not about withholding information so as to exercise power over others….

hence, it must be remembered that to be open and honest in a culture of domination, a culture that relies on lying, is a courageous gesture. Within white-supremacist capitalist partriarchal culture, black people are not supposed to be “well”. This culture makes wellness a “white” luxury. To choose against that culture, to choose wellness, we must be dedicated to truth. By giving up the illusory power that comes from lying and manipulation and opting instead for the personal power and dignity that comes from being honest, black women can begin to eliminate life threatening pain from our lives

II: The Joy of Reconciliation

Healing inner wounds makes reconciliation possible. Reconciliation is one of my favourite words. Evoking our capacity to restore to harmony that which as been broken, severed, and disrupted. The very word serves as a constant reminder in my life that we can come together with those who have hurt us, with those whom we have caused pain, and experience sweet communion.

To be at peace, black women, especially those among us who have been deeply wounded and hurt, must release the bitterness we hold within us. Bitterness is like a poison. When it’s inside us, it spreads even to the parts of the self that allow us to feel joy and a spirit of celebration. Yet many of us choose to hold onto pain through the cultivation of bitterness and an unforgiving heart….when we give ourselves love and peace, we can give these gifts to others. It’s really impossible to live a life in love while hoping that harm and hurt will come to others…

Again, I think it is important that we remember that forgiveness does not mean that we cease to assertively identify wrongs, hold others to account, and demand justice…..this is the true realization of justice – that we want what is peaceful and life sustaining for all and not just for ourselves.

…..we have to forgive with our whole hearts. If we forgive in words but continue to harbour secret resentment, nothing really changes. When forgiveness happens, when there is compassion, the groundwork for reconciliation is possible. For me that is the ultimate joy: That we learn that there are no broken bonds that cannot be mended, no pain that cannot be assuaged

III Touching the Earth

…..Collective black self recovery takes place when we begin to renew our relationship to the earth, when we remember the way of our ancestors. When the earth is sacred to us, our bodies can also be sacred to us……

Ase.O