In this episode Kwasi brings back Dutty Bookman to discuss the movement he has helped dub as the Reggae Revival after a panel at SXSW 2027. He also speaks to Koro Fyah of the Bevel Rock camp about his ABC’s at SXSW as well. Bomani interviews the founder of the Uganda’s Bavubuka Foundation, Babaluku, and their chief archivist Gilbert Daniels about Hip-Hop in Uganda and the Lugaflow movement. Bomani and Kwasi also discuss spirituality in independent music, and how the community discusses things like sin. A must listen!
I had the pleasure of getting across the Bay bridge and working with students in Dorchester County this past Spring. Ms. Emily Hill did me the honor of publishing a story about it in the local newsletter. I can’t wait to go back next year!
Dorchester County Public Schools
Every Child A Success!
Henry V. Wagner Jr., Ed.D., Superintendent DATE: May 20, 2015 SDS Young Artist Residency Program: BOMANI Visits 3rd, 4th, & 5th Grades
By Emily Hill
Last week, an artist named Bomani visited our class. He came to teach us about how rhyming can help us remember things. We also learned that there are few ways to rhyme! There is a real rhyme, when the last two letters of the words are the same; cat and hat. There is also a near rhyme, when the words or phrases sound very similar but are not the same. For example, we rhymed “patriot” with “hate we get”. Lastly, there is the rhyme when you put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.
We all got to write a few short rhymes so we could completely understand what the different rhymes are and how to use them. As a class, we helped Bomani create a rhyme about himself, and then we each got to create a rhyme about ourselves. Everyone got a chance to share their personal rhyme with the class. Every time someone got up to read, we had to cheer like it was our favorite singer and Bomani made a huge deal about the person reading. We felt really cool and important. It made reading something in front of our friends so much easier!
Our final rhyme was about our social studies unit on the Revolutionary War. We all started by writing a paragraph about what our class had learned. We then organized the rhyme and created a beat for it. After editing and rehearsing it, we performed it for the 4th grade and they performed theirs for us!
After we finished our performance and watched the 4th grades performance, Bomani asked us to describe the week in one word. The words the 4th and 5th graders used were unique and energetic. These words perfectly fit the week. All of the activities were fun and helpful. In addition, the rhyme we made will help us remember facts for the test on the Revolutionary War.
Sankofa Video and Books Cafe entrance looks like an island oasis. Trees and grass cascade from the front door down a series of short steps and an expansive patio, with stone walk ways meandering through the grass and bright umbrellas shielding its patrons at tables that invite you to come take a load off, drink a cup of Ethiopian coffee, and read a good book without looking at your watch. Sankofa. The African proverb turned favorite diaspora motto, “go back and fetch it”. It finds what was great about our past, and brings it to the future. That spirit is why having Watermelon Day there was so perfect. With all the books and movies glorifying our people, our struggle, our strength, Haile and Shirikiana Gerima (the famed film makers and owners of Sankofa Video & Books Cafe) love to also show how our great history is, and are committed to affecting our present and our future.
On August 3rd at 3pm the crowd had already started to gather. Folks were eager to experience the live art that would fill the next 5 hours. Others were nervous that the free watermelon wasn’t going to last long once word got out on Georgia Ave. Mostly though, they were there to smile, clap to the rhythm, snap at the punch-lines, cheer on the babies, and bask in the beauty that is Red Black and Green. There was no cause to fight for, no point to prove, just a few hours to reflect on how great the summer can be. I live for these moments. As much as I am addicted to social media, and blogging, and the latest youtube viral videos, nothing compares to real life cultural experiences. It’s one thing to comb the bookshelves of this store to be reminded of how beautiful and intelligent we are, it’s another thing to feel it with all 5 senses. That’s what we had on Watermelon Day.
Drew “Droopy the BrokeBaller” Anderson and Dwayne B aka the Crochet Kingpen are two of the most beloved figures in the DC spoken word and open mic scene, so it was only natural that we asked them to be our hosts for tonight. Few people “talk about it and be abou it” the way Tehuti aka Meta4 does. A pillar of the late turn of the millennium U street scene, he made his triumphant return to the mic, spittin’ molten lava rhymes about his people conquering all adversity. The crowd was with him for every bar!
DC Youth Slam Team was recently named the world champion of youth poetry at the 2014 Brave New Voices slam competition in Philadelphia last month, and for 20 minutes they showed their home town crowd how they took home the crown. With constant chants of “Three stars! Two bars! Haaaaayyyy!” they kept us old folks smiling while we admired their youthful energy. As soon as they got into their poems we were blown away by their maturity, stage presence, and meticulous attention to detail in every word they put into their poems.
The Kuumba Kids, lead by Mama Bashea, always gets the little ones up and moving. Before the they know it, the children have learned something (like the origins of math in Africa, or how to greet someone in Swahili) without even realizing it. The highlight of their set always is the “Teach Me How to Dougie” remix of the Itsy Bitsy Spider. They even had the 60 year old kids doing the spider move with their hands while shaking their hips.
Ka’ba Akintunde should be cloned immediately and shipped overnight to every summer time barbeque on the planet. His soulful voice and late 70’s sensibilities made everyone remember the days of Sly and the Family Stone, and Bill Withers. He even brought Haile out of his comfortable chair in the air conditioned bookstore when Ka’Ba broke into the classic “I’ve Got My Mojo Working”. Ka’Ba certainly did.
Leftist is that band that everyone is going to say (and many people bold face lie) “I knew them when…”. Their ascension in hip hop rap/rock music is inevitable, as their metallic yet soulful riffs compliment their introspective and motivational lyrics perfectly.
The drummers and dancers from Farafina Kan made the crowd swell to epic proportions, almost beginning to block the south bound traffic on Georgia Ave. I am completely partial to this group, its members consisting of my sons Olu and Dela as well as many of the students I teach as part of the Sankofa Homeschooling Collective. That said, it is still undeniable the level of musicianship and professionalism from these kids led by Baba Mahiri and Mama Nkenge
It was great seeing Haile Gerima, professor and film maker, most known in the States for the movie Sankofa, sit in the corner on the patio, arms folded, slight smile, bobbing his head in approval like a proud Baba. Tensi was slammed in the kitchen of the Cafe. Everyone had a sandwich, or a fruit smoothie, or a salad. They later reported that this was by far the best day they had all summer . I will be posting more info about Watermelon Day, and how you can be involved in the next one soon (as well as more video and photos as we edit them). Check out RichFoxStudios for more pics!
Rest in Peace to the victims of the horrific massacre in Aurora, Colorado. My sincere condolences to their families and loved ones.
This is the crucial moment, in the age of 24/7 news and the myth of U.S. exceptional-ism, that we have to remember not to over react. Your life is always within nano-seconds of ending, with you having absolutely no control over it. Don’t feel overly anxious. Use this moment to realize how pointless that angst is, because it would not have saved a single victim. Don’t change your plans to go see your favorite entertainment. Use this moment to remember that you must live every moment to it’s fullest. Don’t fall for the myth that mass violence is a new phenomenon, a sign of the fall of man or the end times. Use this moment to remind yourself that in a world that has always had mass murder, and lynchings and genocide, love and peace has still survived. Don’t slide into the lie that the this sociopath was inspired by the sociopaths in comic books. Instead realize the truth that the sociopaths in comic books are inspired by real life.
Some in the news are already analyzing the massacre as a gun law issue, playing up the fear that Americans are armed to the teeth. But this man shot 71 people in a crowded multi-plex theater of probably more than a thousand, and NO ONE returned fire. Americans aren’t as armed and dangerous as we want to think. The vast majority of us just want to love those around us, and bond over common stories and experiences. This was a sociopath. He would have found any tool, during any time period, to have done this act of terrorism. Making it about guns would be smoke fighting, not fire fighting. We, as U.S. citizens, should not be so arrogant to think we deserve more from our creator than what happens in Syria all day, every day. Mass murder is sporadic, and horrific… and normal.
Hug your friends and family and tell them you love them, don’t assume you’ll get another chance. Make sure you don’t use this incident to add to your worries. Yes, life is fragile and can be taken at any moment, but that happens whether you worry about it or not. I have a lot of life to get in before that moment happens, so I’m going to see one of my favorite mythological characters in a movie tonight. I’m going to note where the emergency exits are, like I always do, and not spend a moment more worrying. Even if we can’t find it physically, we should all mentally Live in Peace.
“Mommy, I’m not black. I’m white like Maya”, is what my 5 year old son said standing at the base of the Martin Luther King Jr. monument. His mother had just given him the cliff notes explanation of the civil rights movement. “Why is that?” his mom asked. “Because if they are going to beat me up for going to a restaurant, I don’t want to be black”.
I laughed when she told me this story, and then had a follow up conversation with both of my kids about what was beautiful about being black. It was easy reiterating what their mother said, that what had happened to freedom riders, protesters and sit-in participants was a thing of the past. That it was great to be proud of the color of your skin whether it was dark like Grandmother Barbara Jean and my whole side of the family from South Carolina, or like Maya (my sons name for their maternal grandmother) and her family from Cape Verde (and for the record she is black, she’ll fight you tooth and nail if you tell her otherwise). His mom and I both had proud moments of self satisfaction and thankfulness about everything Dr. King and the millions of us, black and white, that have created a world where my children don’t have to worry about the color of their skin. That is what I thought the teachable moment was. But now, after being obsessed with this Trayvon Martin case, I’m not sure if I was telling him the truth anymore. … Continue Reading
Tariiq Omari Walton invited me to be a guest on his CTV talk show Views & Vibes a few weeks ago as they discussed the importance of arts education in the current educational environment that is constantly devaluing and de-funding arts. Other guests panelists, Ms. Patricia Cruze (the Education Director for Young Audiences), and Ms. DaKiya Lambert (the Artistic Director for Dance Dimensions) did outstanding jobs discussing this subject. Read after the break to see more about their great organizations dedicated to bringing art to young people!
The guys in this week’s Barbershop discuss a recent cartoon published by The New York Post, which many say depicts Obama as a chimpanzee shot dead by police (the paper has since offered an apology). Also, Illinois Sen. Roland Burris is back in the hot seat and baseball star Alexander “A-Rod” Rodriguez explains what he describes as a “stupid” decision to experiment with steroids.
Hear views from blogger Jimi Izrael, artist Bomani Armah, civil rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar and syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette.
To listen to the episode click here.