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!
(scroll down to see a performance and music video from Omekongo)
Introduction: Welcome to the even place. My name is Bomani Armah. We are taping my show today called ‘The Indie’. We’re talking about independent thought, independent business, independent art—got one of my favorite independent people sitting here next to me, Mr. Omekongo Dibinga. Say hello to the people.
Omekongo: Hello people, how are you doing?
Bomani: Alright now Omekongo—if you don’t know, you really need to get familiar with this brother. As long as I’ve been doing the music and poetry scene, he has been in it and he has been one of my favorite poets, favorite activist. He’s always on top of some issue where he’s traveling the country and the world talking it through his art form and his motivational speaking. And today we brought him here to talk about a couple of different things. One is his latest video which is “It’s a Girl” which I was actually really proud to be a part of and also the End of Silence Campaign—I see you’ve got the cool t-shirt on there. So, tell us a little bit about yourself. Let’s start from the beginning; who and what does Omekongo Dibingo do?
Omekongo: First of all, thanks for having me on the show.
Bomani: You’re more than welcomed.
Omekongo: For all of you out there, I’m a kid who grew up in Boston Massachusetts, son of Congolese immigrants and I started writing as a tool to escape. I was bullied a lot. People used to pick on us because we’re African. They used to hate on our names—Tarzan references, writing just became my escape. I discovered people like Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni. They were talking about Africa being beautiful so I started memorizing their stuff until I felt mature enough to write my own in the 4th or 5th grade. And from there, I just started writing with one hope. The one hope was that people would hear what I’m saying and stop bullying me, stop picking on me and really be interested in my story. The more I shared, the more they were interested in my story and the more they were to share their story and as they say the rest is history.
I was fortunate to be able to interview friend and NPR barbershop alum Arsalan Ifkitar about his new book “Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post Ossama Era”. Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, global media commentator and author of the book Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era. Arsalan is also a regular weekly commentator for National Public Radio (NPR) and contributing writer for publications like CNN.com and Esquire Magazine (Middle East edition) on domestic and international issues affecting our world today. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University in suburban Washington DC.
In May 2011, Arsalan was named one of the top 12 Muslim Twitter accounts in the world by The Huffington Post and he was also a featured interview for a December 2012 ABC News documentary called “Back to the Beginning” by Emmy-award winning journalist Christiane Amanpour on the shared origins of the major world religions today.
Arsalan has taken on the ardous task of explaining brown people to CNN and Fox and explain Americans to Al Jazeera. His first book brings the conversation full circle as he is talking about American and Muslims who are contributing to Islamophobia as well as those helping to use pacifist methods to bring about peace and understanding. His book goes into the history of Islamic pacifism, highlighting leaders from the modern Muslim landscape, and those who predate Ghandi, Dr. King and other modern examples of pacifism. In this interview Arslan explain the very deliberate title “Islamic Pacifism” designed to capture attention because of the knee jerk reaction to “muslim” and “pacifist” is a paradox. Listen to the interview and catch up on the conflict of our time, that is in no way (contrary to popular belief) a clash of civilizations.
Join us as we launch our new show “the Indie” with Byron Hurt, writer and director of the winning film “Soul Food Junkies” that will air on PBS the same night. Byron Hurt explores the health advantages and disadvantages of Soul Food, a quintessential American cuisine. Soul food will also be used as the lens to investigate the dark side of the food industry and the growing food justice movement that has been born in its wake. We will talk to him live on the phone, then follow up with a discussion with in studio guests who are having their own transformative experiences involving food and health. Looking forward to this show! http://www.bhurt.com/soulfoodjunkies.php
“Until the lions can tell their stories, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter.” – African Proverb
Tune in next Monday at 10pm on PBS to watch the documentary “Soul Food Junkies” by noted filmmaker Byron Hurt. This isn’t the entire point of this blog post, but I realized after writing half of this post that I was endanger of doing exactly what I am criticizing. Being one of too many current “State of Black Media” watch-dogs who only criticize and don’t promote.
Somewhere in the modern era of black activism we have confused the anti Jim Crow tactics of the Civil Rights era to our concern with black self-image and modern media policing. I get it. We need more stories told by and/or about us that show us in a realistic and thought provoking light. But now the internet has become a great place for pho-activism. Where well-meaning people, trying to protect us from the ire of the ever-present racist eyes and ears of America, engage in “nigger” word counts and decry depictions of any black character that is less than heroic. The problem is, they do this completely out of context. As Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx so simply and necessarily state, the word “nigger” is supposed to make you wince. I understand not liking a film like Django, I don’t understand being offended by it. I’ll let other people like Rodney Barnes, make the pro-Django argument as he did so well in the Huffington Post. Rodney writes,
“Film is an art form. It is a form of expression. And it is a business. And I want my films about my culture to be honest. Not positive or negative, just honest. There are those who feel all slavery-era films should be of the same tone where a gospel choir plays in the background as the noble slave is whipped and defiantly refuses to cry… a story where the prospect of revenge would never enter his mind because he is chiseled and formed from the spirit of Mother Africa.”