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Archive for the ‘Thinking Africa’ Category

Remembering Fela Anikulapo Ransome-Kuti. R.I.P. Son of Africa

In Music, the World, Thinking Africa on 02/08/2012 at 11:38

Its been been 15 years since you started your peaceful journey Black President, Omo Iya Aje, Stubborn boy, Oko gbogbo Omoge, Roforofo fight – Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Anikulapo-Kuti 15 October 1938 — 2 August 1997 son of the soil gone but never ever forgotten…..E’erbody say yeah yeaahhh! RIP.” – Tunde Jinadu

This man of men must continue to be remembered for all that he offered both the world and African people.  Fela’s music lives on in multiple genres of today’s music, on Broadway and in our hearts.  Many Americans called him the James Brown of Africa.  I call him a kindred spirit to the Godfather of Soul.  Because he too was an African man and it showed whenever James Brown sang and was on stage.  Kindred spirits is what they were and they are both no longer with us.

Music brings the world together. It tells the stories of a people and Fela knew how to tell a story that would sting the faint of heart.  Because he called out the injustices of his home country of Nigeria. he spoke of the corruption, lack of leadership and the negative influences of foreign religious, i.e., Western Christianity and Eastern Islam.

Until this day many sing his songs, dance to them but seemingly still don’t understand what he was really talking about.  15 years ago the ravages of AIDS took him from us.  AIDS a disease that kills millions throughout Africa and certainly if he were alive today he would be speaking out about AIDS as well.  Remembering Fela is bittersweet but also it’s wonderful because his music means so much to so many.

As is said in Yoruba, “E mi omo n’ile” and he was truly a son of his father’s land.  We miss you Fela but know you are with the ancestors and therefore continues to be with us.

In Honour of Babatunde Olatunji, Morehouse Man, Citizen of the World

In Culture, History, Music, the World, Thinking Africa on 23/07/2012 at 09:36

Morehouse college alumnus Babatunde Olatunji (April 7, 1927–April 6, 2003) was a Nigerian drummer, educator, social activist and recording artist.

Olatunji was born in the village of Ajido, a small town near Badagry, Lagos State, in southwestern Nigeria. A member of the Yoruba people, Olatunji was introduced to traditional African music at an early age.
In 1950, after reading about the Rotary International Foundation’s scholarship program in the Reader’s Digest magazine he applied for it, recived the scholorship and got a place at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia,

Olatunji won a following among jazz musicians, notably creating a strong relationship with John Coltrane and Columbia Records A&R man John Hammond who signed him to the Columbia label in 1957. With Coltrane’s help, he founded the Olatunji Center for African Culture in Harlem. This was the site of Coltrane’s final performance. In 1959 Olatunji released his first of six records on the Columbia label, called Drums of Passion.

In 1969, Carlos Santana had a major hit with his cover version of this first album’s “Jin-go-lo-ba”, which Santana recorded on his debut album, Santana, as “Jingo.” Olatunji favoured a big percussion sound, and his records typically featured more than 20 players, unusual for a percussion based ensemble. Drums of Passion became a major hit and remains in print; it introduced many Americans to world music. Drums of Passion also served as the band’s name. Notable band members included; Clark Terry, Bill Lee, Horace Silver, Yusef Lateef, Sikiru Adepoju and Charles Lloyd, among others.

 

Olatunji’s subsequent recordings include Drums of Passion: The Invocation (1988), Drums of Passion: The Beat (1989) (which included Airto Moreira and Carlos Santana), Love Drum Talk (1997), Circle of Drums (2005) (originally titled Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations, with Muruga Booker and Sikiru Adepoju), and Olatunji Live at Starwood (2003 – recorded at the 1997 Starwood Festival [1]) with guest Halim El-Dabh. He also contributed to Peace Is The World Smiling: A Peace Anthology For Families on the Music For Little People label (1993).

Olatunji recorded with many other prominent musicians (often credited as “Michael Olatunji”), including Cannonball Adderley (on his African Waltz (1961) album), Horace Silver, Quincy Jones, Pee Wee Ellis, Stevie Wonder, Randy Weston, and with Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln on the pivotal Freedom Now Suite aka We Insist, and with Grateful Dead member Mickey Hart on his Grammy winning Planet Drum projects. He is also mentioned in the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Free” as recorded on the album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Olatunji composed music for the Broadway theatrical and Hollywood film productions of Raisin in the Sun. He assisted Bill Lee with the music for his son Spike Lee’s hit film She’s Gotta Have It.-  (Source: Wikipedia)

South African woman to lead African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

In Politics, the World, Thinking Africa on 19/07/2012 at 11:25

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, incoming President of the African Union

AFRICAN COMMUNITY PSA: Women are doing BIG things on the continent. CONGRATULATIONS to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to new President of the African Union. Continue to make us proud.

 

A Harlem Landmark Closing After 10 Years In Business – Hue-Man Bookstore

In Authors, Business, Thinking Africa on 18/07/2012 at 09:42

 

COMMUNITY PSA: I’m deeply saddened by news of the closing of the largest Black American owned bookstore in the U.S. Just finished listening to an interview on NPR with the owner Marva Allen about the state of her industry and why she had to make a tough business decision to close the store.

Simple answer, the “business model was no longer sustainable.” She said that while at the same time indicating that her gross profit margins were 37%. Bottom line, her store didn’t have enough traffic to boost sales to a point where they would allow for a more sustainable model.

One other note, the largest Black American owned company is not as large as the smallest Fortune 500 company. According to Allen this is largely because Black American owned business don’t have the same access to funding and investment that White owned businesses in America. Just something to seriously consider people.

We’ve got work to do.

Happy 94th Birthday to the One and Only Nelson Mandela

In Culture, History, Politics, the World, Thinking Africa, Uncategorized on 18/07/2012 at 09:37

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” ― Nelson Mandela

 

Celebrating freedom and the African continent on Africa Day

In Culture, Politics, the World, Thinking Africa on 26/05/2012 at 17:26

After the World War II, the process of decolonization of the African continent gathered momentum as Africans increasingly agitated for more political rights and independence. While in other parts of the continent colonial powers reluctantly and grudgingly relinquished power, in other parts African people launched protracted struggles against the recalcitrant colonial regimes. Thus, between 1945 and 1965 a significant number of African countries gained independence from European colonial powers. Ghana became the first African country south of the Sahara to gain independence on 6 March 1957. Its independence served an inspiration to other African countries struggling against colonial rule and as a result Ghana occupied a central role in the struggle against colonial rule.

Just over a year after its independence Ghana under the leadership Kwame Nkrumah convened the first Conference of Independent African States on 15 April 1958. Amongst those countries that attended were Ghana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Liberia, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia amongst others. There were also representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria andthe Union of Cameroonian Peoples. It is worth noting that there were only eight African countries were independent at this time. The conference was an unequivocal assertion of Africa’s rejection of colonial and imperialist domination of the continent. It became the first Pan African conference to be held on the continent bringing together various African countries. Furthermore, the conference became a collective platform from which African countries sought to cooperate in the struggle against colonialism.

To further encourage and forge a common goal of fighting against colonial rule, the conference called for the observance of African Freedom Day once a year, to mark “the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.” Consequently, 15 April was enacted as called it African Freedom Day (or Africa Liberation Day), and this marked the beginning of what would later be known as Africa Day.

Subsequent to the April conference another conference, the All Africa People’s Conference (AAPC) was held on 8-13 December 1958 in Accra Ghana. The AAPC was attended by both independent and non independent countries, representatives of liberation movements.

Africa is the new developing and growth market.  Pay very close attention.

Huge detention centre to be Israel’s latest weapon in migration battle

In the World, Thinking Africa on 22/05/2012 at 15:56

Protesters in Jerusalem this year as collective protection from deportation for South Sudanese people expired. In 2011, Israel granted refugee status in just six cases. Photograph: Nir Alon/Demotix/Corbis

A vast detention complex is rising from the sandy grounds of Ktzi’ot prison in the Negev desert, close to Israel‘s border with Egypt, which will become the world’s largest holding facility for asylum seekers and migrants.

When it is completed, at an initial cost of £58m to the Israeli government, it will be capable of holding up to 11,000 people.

Despite unprecedented protests at rising costs of living, and increased threats to national security in a volatile, post-Arab spring Middle East, immigration is of such paramount importance to Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition that it has skimmed a minimum of 2% from every ministry’s budget to fund the construction and start-up costs of the building.

“We are a small country of 8 million. Last year we had more illegal immigrants than legal ones,” said Mark Regev, the Israeli government’s spokesman.

“We are currently the only first-world economy and the only democracy in the region. But for people coming from countries like Somalia and Sudan, we cannot be the solution.”

Regev said the new detention centre, which should receive its first 3,000 detainees by the end of this year, was part of a multi-tiered strategy to tackle and deter economic migration. Other measures include a security fence that will run the length of Israel’s southern border, aggressive implementation of employment laws and, ultimately, repatriation of the migrants.

In January, the Knesset passed a controversial bill categorising anyone attempting to enter the country through its southern border as an “infiltrator” who can be detained for three years – longer if they are from a “hostile state” such as Sudan.

“If we find any bona fide refugees, some will be able to stay and others will be sent to a third country that accepts refugees,” said Regev.

Of the 13,683 people who entered Israel illegally in 2010, 62% were Eritreans and 33% were Sudanese. According to UNHCR figures, 66% of Eritreans who arrive illegally in the UK are granted refugee status and 96% of those arriving in Canada. (cont … The Guardian)

Israel PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state

In the World, Thinking Africa on 22/05/2012 at 15:41

Binyamin Netanyahu reignites row over fate of thousands of African migrants in Israel

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The crime rate among foreigners in Israel was 2.04% in 2010 compared with 4.99% among Israelis.

The Israeli prime minister has stoked a volatile debate about refugees and migrant workers from Africa, warning that “illegal infiltrators flooding the country” were threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.

“If we don’t stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state,” Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity.” Israel‘s population is 7.8 million.

His comments follow media reports of rising crime, including two gang rapes, in southern Tel Aviv, where many African migrants are concentrated. However, Micky Rosenfeld, spokesman for the Israeli police, said the overall crime rate in Israel had fallen. There had been one alleged rape of a teenage girl connected to the migrant community, for which three suspects were in custody, he added.

Yohanan Danino, the Israeli police chief, said migrants should be permitted to work to discourage petty crime. Nearly all are unable to work legally, and live in overcrowded and impoverished conditions. “The community needs to be supported in order to prevent economic and social problems,” said Rosenfeld.

But the interior minister, Eli Yishai, rejected such a move, saying: “Why should we provide them with jobs? I’m sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians. Jobs would settle them here, they’ll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here.” (cont … The Guardian)

Happy Birthday Brother Malcolm. You are sorely missed

In Culture, Thinking Africa on 19/05/2012 at 10:50

Malcolm X in March 1964

On this day in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska the fourth of seven children Malcolm Little was born. His father, Earl Little, a very dark complexioned Black American from Reynolds, Georgia was a “lay” Baptist minister and active member of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

His mother, Louise Norton, born in Grenada, West Indies to a White Scottish father and African-Grenadian mother.  It was said that Louse Norton was so light in complexion she thought to be a White woman.  Which one would imagine caused quite the stir in the early 1920′s in Omaha, Nebraska.  A place where the thought of an interaction couple was an absolute no, no.

Malcolm was born at a precarious time in the history of America.  It was in the crucible of the mid-1920′s-1960′s that we saw this man known to many as Malcolm Little become Malcolm X and ultimately El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (لحاجّ مالك الشباز‎).

It was this man who was taken away from us, it was this man who was assassinated, it was this man who inspired generations to follow in his foot steps.  He had profound impact on many including the person writing this blog.

 

The hope remains that his memory continues to grow and is not co-opted by the politically correct who will surely muddle his message and meaning for future generations. Although he died has El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, the majority of us will know him as simply Brother Malcolm.  Happy birthday good sir.  You are sorely missed.

For more information about the life and times of Malcolm X please read Manning Marable’s Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.  The most exhaustive work on Malcolm X to date.

Can We Blame Global Poverty on Pessimism?

In Consider This, Culture, the World, Thinking Africa on 15/05/2012 at 07:09

Photo credit: Anna Omelchenko / Shutterstock.com

Micro-financing and other anti-poverty programs provide hope to the impoverished, which turns out to be a very powerful thing. The mental anguish of poverty leads many to believe they are stuck in a poverty trap when they are not.

What’s the Latest Development?

Living in poverty exacts a big mental tole but new research indicates that the positive effects of anti-poverty programs often go beyond their immediate material consequences. When MIT economist Esther Duflo investigated a micro-finance operation in the Indian state of West Bengal, she found that giving families “small productive assets”–a cow, a couple of goats or some chickens–benefited them beyond the milk, meat or eggs they could sell as a result. It turns out that recipients were working 28% more hours than before, mostly on projects unrelated to the assets they were given.

What’s the Big Idea?

Duflo believes that micro-financing and other anti-poverty programs provide hope to the impoverished, which turns out to be a very powerful thing. The mental anguish of poverty leads many to believe they are stuck in a poverty trap when they are not. Because prosperity seems an impossibly distant goal to the impoverished, they often forgo incremental improvements they are capable of making: “a bit more fertiliser, some more schooling or a small amount of saving.” But when these incremental changes yield tangible dividends, families and individuals are encouraged to make more and more…(cont … Big Think)

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