stories like these nourish we so, check how our Tdot is…

growing en sustaining wisdom circles with ancient rhythms at the Pikin Amani Theatre (aka. Peace Gardens).

Shango Thunder Drummers are having new workshops to practise for Solstice festivities on Thursday June 21st.

What’s IT About?

(Pan-) African Drumming workshops

Prepare to participate in the Summer Solstice drum circle with  FREE drumming workshops

Instruments are limited. Bring your drums & other percussion instruments if you have them.

No experience or prior knowledge required.

 When is IT?

Mondays June 11th & June 18th, 7-9pm

Where?

Children’s Peace Theatre at 305 Dawes Road

Contact info

To sign up for workshops, email alixa@childrenspeacetheatre.org

or please call 416-752-1550 for details

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Notes On creativity, compassion and courage:

  1. Creativity: recently, many mo friends have been questioning and sharing with us, [the storytellers behind The Q/t werd and Nekkyd,] what they think our art is about; we have heard en documented many ideas on the ways to build solidarity among QPOC communities, from a pan-afrikan perspective, yet we haven’t ‘officially’ fleshed out where we coming from and headed yet with this epic of a feature length documentary and series.

reality is, our visions (in dis here epic of a quest) have undergone deep transformashun: in the last 3 year(s) we have crossed different worlds and not only survived, crashed en burned, revived en thrived, but metamorphosed into the kipepeo of our wild dreams. our experiences of rebuilding villages are not what we expected them to be, they have surpassed our wildest fantasies en remind us of heaven on earth; now, alhamdulilah(t) we are grateful for the growing, loving communities, for all the healing and prayers in sacred spaces

in dis’ place here, in the diaspora, we found the source of Mama Afrika again, in her people.  In our ancestral legacies en mestizoed religions,  speaking black into (our +ve) blood.memories, breaking ugali with bredrin en dadas in prayer en solidarity.

the q_t werd is personal, political en religious:

personal like what you get when a documentary filmmaker/storyteller gets married to other artist/dadas, en where dem and their village produce a (dark) comedy series on lesbian, queer & trans (pan/afrikan) communities & a feature documentary on their ‘personal’ efforts to mobilise resources for queer/trans communities in East Afrika by designing the curriculum and fundraising for a queer/trans youth arts collective (QTYAC) in Kenya & Uganda. [that’s wassup]

the political is, we are far from where we started: individually and collectively, even though we’re back to the storyboard stages again, we’re still in the spaces between (post) production en grant writing.

Our hadithi remains the same, we are still on this (vision) quest to continue (coming into) fulfilling our (right) destinies, still creatively funding our activism, art and village building through strategically chosen jobs and “fly-by-night” ventures.

The bigger point is that, the religious piece is the big(ga) hadithi, our nekkyd truth is the crux of our salvation and healing wise is,  us dreaming of (going) back home with all our first world privileges, friends and families.

2. Compassion: Over a moon ago, we received the best advice we ever got from a wise afrikan womban’s reading of our quest/ion/s. We were reminded that love and truthfulness would have to determine our way of expressing ourselves and that we jus HAD (no choice but) to lovingly and sincerely communicate our thoughts to those around us.

the truth is, we don’t have any ‘official’ funding for our (art) work, and yet we have still been audacious (and over ambitious) enough to work on submitting, not only, a documentary to the Inside Out & Mpenzi before the end of this year, but designing the curriculum and mobilising (people)  resources for QTYAC, to be run in Kenya & Uganda from May – August 2011.

Technically, the ‘boring’ or exciting stuff (depending on where you look at it from), that there are nuff people interested in getting move involved with/in our communities back at home, we’re trying because we CAN and if we don’t then folks who don’t know betta than us will prolly try to help us OUT  for themselves, we’re doing all a dis’ organising  because there’s sayings that go like we have mo to work with, in dis place here in the FIRST  world,  to serve our communities betta;

3. Courage: a love story

Skeleton woman

– A Tale of the Inuit –

She had done something of which her father disapproved, although no one any longer remembered what it was. But her father had dragged her to the cliffs and thrown her over and into the sea. There, the fish ate her flesh away and plucked out her eyes. As she lay under the sea, her skeleton turned over and over in the currents.

One day a fisherman came fishing, well, in truth many came to this bay once. But this fisherman had drifted far from his home place and did not know that the local fisherman stayed away, saying this inlet was haunted.

The fisherman’s hook drifted down through the water, and caught of all places, in the bones of Skeleton Woman’s rib cage. The fisherman thought, “Oh, now I’ve really got a big one! Now I really have one!” In his mind he was thinking of how many people this great fish would feed, how long it would last, how long he might be free from the chore of hunting. And as he struggled with this great weight on the end of the hook, the sea was stirred to a thrashing froth, and his kayak bucked and shook, for she who was beneath struggled to disentangle herself. And the more she struggled, the more she tangled in the line. No matter what she did, she was inexorably dragged upward, tugged up by the bones of her own ribs.

The hunter had turned to scoop up his net, so he did not see her bald head rise above the waves, he did not see the little coral creatures glinting in the orbs of her skull, he did not see the crustaceans on her old ivory teeth. When he turned back with his net, her entire body, such as it was, had come to the surface and was hanging from the tip of his kayak by her long front teeth.

Agh!” cried the man, and his heart fell into his knees, his eyes hid in terror on the back of his head, and his ears blazed bright red. “Agh!” he screamed, and knocked her off the prow with his oar and began paddling like a demon toward shoreline. And not realizing she was tangled in his line, he was frightened all the more for she appeared to stand upon her toes while chasing him all the way to shore. No matter which way he zigged his kayak, she stayed right behind, and her breath rolled over the water in clouds of steam, and her arms flailed out as though to snatch him down into the depths.

Agh!” he wailed as he ran aground. In one leap he was out of his kayak, clutching his fishing stick and running, and the coral white corpse of skeleton woman, still snagged in the fishing line, bumpety-bumped behind right after him. Over the rocks he ran, and she followed. Over the frozen tundra he ran, and she kept right up. Over the meat laid out to dry he ran, cracking it to pieces as his mukluks bore down.

Throughout it all she kept right up, in fact, she grabbed some of the frozen fish as she was dragged behind. This she began to eat, for she had not gorged in a long, long time. Finally, the man reached his snowhouse and dove right into the tunnel and on hands and knees scrabbled his way into the interior. Panting and sobbing he lay there in the dark, his heart a drum, a mighty drum. Safe at last, oh so safe, yes, safe thank the Gods, Raven, yes, thank Raven, yes, and all bountiful Sedna, safe… at…last.

Imagine when he lit his whale oil lamp, there she – it – lay in a tumble upon his snow floor, one heel over her shoulder, one knee inside her rib cage, one foot over her elbow. He could not say later what it was, perhaps the firelight softened her features, or the fact that he was a lonely man… but a feeling of some kindness came into his breathing, and slowly he reached out his grimy hands and using words softly like a mother to child, began to untangle her from the fishing line.

Oh, na, na, na.” First he untangled the toes, then the ankles. “Oh, na, na, na.” On and on he worked into the night, until dressing her in furs to keep her warm, Skeleton Woman’s bones were all in the order a human’s should be.

He felt into his leather cuffs for his flint and used some of his hair to light a little more fire. He gazed at her from time to time as he oiled the precious wood of his fishing stick and rewound the gut line. And she in the furs uttered not a word – she did not dare – lest this hunter take her out and throw her down to the rocks and break her bones to pieces utterly.

The man became drowsy, slid under his sleeping skins, and soon was dreaming. And sometimes as humans sleep, you know, a tear escapes from the dreamer’s eye; we never know what sort of dream causes this, but we know it is either a dream of sadness or longing. And this is what happened to the man.

Skeleton Woman saw the tear glisten in the firelight and she became suddenly soooo thirsty. She tinkled and clanked and crawled over to the sleeping man and put her mouth to his tear. The single tear was like a river and she drank and drank and drank until her many-years-long thirst was slaked.

While lying beside him, she reached inside the sleeping man and took out his heart, the mighty drum. She sat up and banged on both sides of it: Bom Bomm!…..Bom Bomm!

As she drummed, she began to sing out “Flesh, flesh, flesh! Flesh, Flesh, Flesh!” And the more she sang, the more her body filled out with flesh. She sang for hair and good eyes and nice fat hands. She sang the divide between her legs, and breasts long enough to wrap for warmth, and all the things a woman needs.

And when she was all done, she also sang the sleeping man’s clothes off and crept into his bed with him, skin against skin. She returned the great drum, his heart, to his body, and that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night, in another way now, a good and lasting way.

The people who cannot remember how she came to her first ill fortune say she and the fisherman went away and were consistently well fed by the creatures she had known in her life under water. The people say that it is true and that is all they know.

[from women who run with the wolves: myths and stories of the wild woman archetype]

http://www.blacklooks.org/2010/08/james-baldwin-precious-lord-take-my-hand/

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.

Since i been back/here, every moon that i count is one closer to my eventual return ‘home’,

in another place, not here, en….

particularly because of the un/expected, the burning & crashing, death, shattered dreams/wonderfull re/births, ever mo’ grateful for the home  and communities I’ve been blessed en privileged to build with-in tdot. I give thanks for mo ‘new’ good friends, truth & reconciliation with enemies, turning into friends. I give thanks for the sun, moon, stars en  big love.

Bless our freedom fighters, healers, peacemakers. Bless the motherless and fatherless. Bless the homeless.

ain’t travelled to many cities, but I’ve had nuff big geographical changes in my lifetime, to appreciate what is arguably the best, most functionally diverse city in the world. yes, i have big love for tdot, the first place I CHOSE to settle in, this lifetime.

 ain’t necessarily the best place to be still, not when you’ve tasted afrikan shores, gone deep into the source of (say) the niger or nile river

Yet the truth is, i YAM  afraid of going back home, of the consequences en sacrifices, of not being able to afford a good dentist, and not being able to go to blockobana or swagger, of redoing my resume to remove MOST of my relevant work experience, because it reads too ‘queer’, or too sexy, afraid that I may not get the revolushunary village, or the seven co-wives en a king, i been willing to settle for jus’ that one, but who knew that that would prove to be the most elusive task yet, like jus when you think you know, that this is really IT,  en the bubble bursts, or a leaf sprouts, en it’s not the tree you thought it was at all, en in the surprise, re/learn more stories of the forest. Yet, like vasalisa who went deep into the forest, with only the doll that her mama gave her as guidance, I am not afraid of doing what feels right, what i just KNOW  is good, healing….loving myself and others, sharing and caring not only for my friends, but for any who regard themselves as enemies.

I give thanks for growing up in the heart of where we all came from, for the ancestors whose shoulders I stand on, and for the journey that has led to to/day. Ifa, I pray that you continue to guide us in/to our right destinies, as we change the destructive path we’ve been on. Onikpite. So that we shall live.

Ase.

[blogger’s notes:  this post is NOT an official peace theatre release. just another sista outsider view on what’s going on in her hood, like with…..]

The Space Between –  the final frontier

60 children and youth and 12 of Toronto’s finest artists were on a mission to explore faith and reason, to seek out truth and understanding

To boldly go where no Theatre has gone before

Director: Liz Pounsett

Music Director: Brownman

Visual Arts Director: Jerry Silverberg

Artistic Director: Karen Emerson

This year, the 10th annual peace camp gala performance & peace is possible summer workshops were supported by a (core) collective of womben + one man, from karen emerson, susan ryan, liz pounsett, jessica salloum, angela chau, vivian sofia mora, sharon vanderveen, merril matthews to Abdul & Alixa @ the (place formerly known as the childrens) peace theatre

[blogger’s notes: disclaimer – the term collective is used strategically/loosely en creatively, the people didn’t come together specifically to work as a collective, didn’t necessarily even work as a collective, there were ofcourse boys & men involved in the work, and depending on where you look at it from, the folks mentioned are just a fraction of ‘the core’]

there was an honorary granma en granpa during the camp, the space was even visited by a few healers during rehearsals, en blessed with a joyous graduation in a celebration of the talents of many children, youth en the rest of us who worked together, and individually for (more than) 3 weeks on the production of the space between: the final frontier & the (ultimately postponed) peace is possible parade.

We will share our stories all through (the sacred moon of Black) August, in a photo & video diary of the spiral journey of n0t only the peace theatre, from 2009 to 2010, but more significantly for this place here, the re-birth of the q/t werd

http://fourwomen.wordpress.com/

But before that, I’ll tell you (part of) the story of how the (children’s) peace theatre was born, where its come from, and where this place is going….. as an institutional body, a (vision of a ) collective, and in our individual, unique journeys that intersect/ed in the heart of what we’ve dubbed as the peace forest, betwixt en between, crescent town, good wood and park vista, close to scarborough village, ideologically not that different from regent park, intrinsically connected to jane & finch, and originally from afrika.

Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo!

Uongo njoo! Utamu kolea!

Sahani? ya mchele! Giza? Ya…….

Once upon a time, there was a turtle on whose back the world turned, underneath that turtle, was another turtle, and underneath that turtle another turtle, or so one version of a creation story goes, the bigger point is, we were born of the great goddess, came from mama afrika, and a decade ago to be exact, the children’s peace theatre was founded by Robert Morgan, en a growing in/visible collective of youth, supporters, and our communities at large…

The first peace camp was “ At The Crossroads”….the gaps and (mis)steps in our journey are the spaces between mo’ people (not) knowing about us, and mo’ folks working ‘with the group in educating in the practice of freedom, using the arts for social change, and rebuilding heathy, sustainable communities

As Robert (one of the founders of this place formerly known as the children’s peace theatre) has said:

“We place children and youth centre stage, not because they are cute or candid, but because they display humanity’s capacity to evolve, even in the harsh conditions of the current times. Young people are demonstrating an instinctive desire to move away from the dominant culture of self-interestedness and aggression, and are moving instead towards building relationships and community due to an innate desire to seek stability, safety, and peace. It is also evident that young people have the imagination and the energy that will be necessary to establish a new culture of peace. Watching young people from very different backgrounds cross paths, encounter conflict, and find creative ways of making the conflict evolve in positive directions, gives me the audacity to believe that peace is possible.”

coming soon…the space between (us and mama afrika), in the (evolushun of the) Q/T werd

 I give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Give thanks for having witnessed and shared in the production of the peace (camp) is possible matinee, workshops and parade. I give thanks for new friends, playing and sharing with the pikney, bredrin and sistren of seeds of hope. Bless them and their families.

I give thanks for the blessings of yesterday, carrying into today, and I pray for them to manifest tomorrow. give thanks for all the love and prayers shared. Bless those who share their energy, labour, pray(er) en love with me, and their families.

I pay homage to the spirit of our ancestors. I pay homage to the orishas. I pay homage to the spirit of cool wota. I pay homage to the good fortune of peace, the good fortune of a stable home, the good fortune of wisdom, the good fortune of calmness.

Thank you for the Blessings of wota. Ifa, I pray that you bless all our living relatives. Those that crawl, swim and fly.

Bless our granmama earth. Ase. Ase…..

hadithi? Hadithi?

Nipe mji?

 Nilienda Addis….Dar-es-salaam, kampala, kiambu, Kigali,kimilili, malindi, Mogadishu, Nairobi na Webuye.

 n(IT)arudi nyumbani karibuni, (lakini) sasa hivi, this space here is the best home I could have, in the heart of tdot, na katika moyo wa Afrika, rebuilding revolushunary villages, waging peace, speaking truth to power and(re)educating not only ourselves, but others, in the practise of freedom.

The peace camp and peace is possible workshops may be officially done, but the work of cultivating our experiences and preparing for the future is on to the next level. We have faith that we will continue to build deeper relationships with our neighbours and friends, and share our resources and spaces more with those who need them.

The Peace of the Mango Tree

http://www.bmf.org/children/mango-tree.html

My love you, my grandchildren. Come over and sit by the mango tree. I have a question I want to ask it.

“O beautiful mango tree who gives us such refreshing shade, do you have peace? If you do, could you teach us how to have peace? You seem so cool and tranquil. What makes you this way? Can you tell us?”

Children, come closer and listen carefully to the mango tree’s answer.

“I am a member of the tree family, and you are human beings. I do not know if you can understand our peace. Even though God has given you judgment, subtle wisdom, analytic wisdom, and divine luminous wisdom, you also have qualities that cause you to take our fruits, cut us down, and destroy us.

“If you want to attain peace, do not cut down a tree, whether it is useful to you or not. And don’t cut down a man, whether he does good deeds or bad. If, because of your pride or selfishness, you think about taking revenge or deceiving and ruining another person, or of making another man suffer in any way, that will destroy your peace. It is your own state of mind that will destroy your peace. But if you can avoid bad thoughts, then you can be happy and peaceful. This is my advice to you.

“Look at me. Here I stand at the crossroads. Many people come this way. As soon as I start to blossom, they throw stones at me to make my flowers fall. They climb and swing on my branches, but I don’t mind. Even when they hit me and shake me and take my fruits, I am happy. Some people and some animals and birds like my fruits while they are still unripe. Others like them after they have ripened. When they bite into my mangoes and taste them, they become happy and peaceful, and that gives me peace. The peace they find by eating my fruits and satisfying their hunger gives me peace. When I am happy in this way, I can be so cooling and provide shade for others, and that adds to their peace and happiness. When they feel peaceful, I am peaceful. That is my secret. That is what makes me grow, bear fruit, and give cooling shade.

“If you human beings want happiness, you should be like this. No matter what happens in the world, even if you are beaten or attacked by your enemies, you should be very patient and show them compassion and love. If you help your enemies, then the peace they gain will be your peace. This is my advice to you.

” My grandchildren, did you listen carefully to what the mango tree said? Did you understand? Trees have so many good qualities, even though they were created with only three levels of consciousness. They have only feeling, awareness and intellect, but God created you with four higher levels of consciousness as well. God gave you exalted wisdom. If you would use that wisdom to attain at least the state of the mango tree, you would find peace and tranquility.

My grandchildren, as you journey through life, use your wisdom in this way. Do not waste your intelligence seeking revenge against others, because while you are chasing after someone else, your own work will be ruined. When you commit yourself to such devious work, you stray from your own path. The distance which separates you from God will become greater and greater, and you will suffer so much.

It happens this way in the world. Anyone who focuses on hurting others abandons his own path. He neglects his prayers and worship and forgets his good qualities. Because of this, he loses his peace and tranquility, and his life is subjected to sorrow and suffering. But the one who turns to God and focuses upon his own qualities, his own work, and his own path will have an exalted and serene life.

We came to this world by the command of our Father, and while we are here we must live by His commandments and establish our connection to Him. We must complete our duties in a way that fulfills those commandments, and then we must return to Him. That is our work. If we can do that, we will have peace in this world, in the next world, and in the world of the souls.

My grandchildren, think deeply about this. Do your own work and your own duty. Even when you are attacked by others, if you are good to them, it will bring peace to you. My love you. Be like the mango tree.

– M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

ase…..