Natural Sweet African Music

This is as simple and as natural as music could ever get it in these days of electronic and synthetic musical productions. Greetings to Zimbabwe!  ENJOY!

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THE RETURN OF SPADE – A Movie About the Quest to Protect the Values of African Heritage

Agent SPADE returns in pursuit of international criminals to recover some stolen African Artifacts and at the same time quash a syndicate engaged in human trafficking!  – PREMIERING SOON – Details at www.Spademovie.com
Writen and directed by Oliver O. Mbamara

Alan Lomax’s Astounding ’30s Haiti (African rooted music and video) Archives Released

Haitian Musicians - Pix by Alan Lomax

Haitian Musicians - by Alan Lomax

“These were recorded right after one American ‘adventure’ in Haiti, so there were enormous shifts in attitude there after that,” Averill says. “It was definitely a fervent period for nationalism and African orientation, with Haiti viewing itself as of African heritage rather than as a weird colony. So here we are following the last American occupation, and Haiti really has the challenge to get itself into governance shape to direct its own affairs and to change the global perceptions of Haiti.”

And into this stepped Alan Lomax, just 21 when he arrived, fresh off various projects with his father, folklorist and musicologist collector John Lomax, and determined to develop a comprehensive collection of African-rooted music in the Americas.

In 2005, ethnomusicologist Gage Averill found himself introducing pioneering African-American dancer Katherine Dunham at an event. Dunham, who passed away in 2006 at age 96, was being honored in part for her invaluable studies of music and dance in Haiti in the 1930s, delving deep into the history and aesthetics of arts forged in the island crucible fueled by the cultures and travails brought by African slaves. Haiti had served as one of the key way stations for the slave trade in the West, a history full of tragedy and oppression that nonetheless forged truly rich and unique culture and ultimately shaped key aesthetics throughout the Americas. When Dunham had been there, many of the old ways were dying in the growing shadow of the modern industrialized world.

Averill, currently professor of history and culture specializing in Caribbean studies at the University of Toronto, had for several years before the event been involved in a project to research and release material from the massive sound and film archives recorded in 1936 and ’37 by American song collector Alan Lomax during his trips to Haiti. The material, kept in the Library of Congress and long unexamined, was the results of an arduous adventure in which the young Lomax lugged cumbersome recording equipment around on buses (he had no private transportation on the visits) even while suffering from malaria. Despite all that, he was able to gather an unbelievable 1,500-plus recordings covering the full range of music: work songs, religious music, vodou and rara ritual, children’s songs, mérengue and other social dance styles among them.

Take ‘Mesi Papa Vensan’ (“Thank You Papa Vincent”), by Surprise Jazz, which is the first song on ‘Alan Lomax in Haiti,’ a collection being released Nov. 17 culled from the archives — 287 song, more than nine hours of music, on 10 CDs, plus six films Lomax shot at the same time.

Explains Averill, “Recorded in an elite club, this small ‘jazz’ orchestra with clarinet lead plays a popular tributary méringue song for the President of Haiti, Sténio Vincent, and the lyrics consist of a recitation of the ways that that the president had benefited the lives of Haitian common people. Jazz had come to Haiti with the American Marines and with recordings, and mixed with the urban form of the méringue, it was the music of choice in the dancing establishments along the waterfront in Haiti of the 1930s.”

Averill is expecting a lot of variations of that scene with the release of this great wealth of material films.

“This will have an interesting effect — I can’t say what — in Haiti itself,” he says. “It might change what people are singing, what vodou pop ensembles are performing. This additional impact in Haiti will be curious and interesting — I hope and think it will. People in Haiti have been hungry for this.”

With civil wars, poverty, long stretches of military rule, the nation’s history has at best been ignored on the island. Archives have been destroyed. But the advent in recent years of a stable government has created an environment that he believes will receive these materials with great interest.

“There’s a cultural ministry and whole nation willing to understand its history,” he says. “And suddenly we drop this large archives into their laps. Going to be fascinating to follow the path of this and see how it rolls out and what it changes in Haiti.”

This endeavor will get a high-profile assist. The project is being done under the auspices of the Haiti Repatriation and Cultural Preservation Project of the Lomax-founded Association for Cultural Equity — of which Lomax’s daughter Anna L. Wood is the director. And that in turn was selected for support by the Clinton Global Initiative and the Green Family Foundation.

But Averill already experienced some of this just in the course of researching the material with his colleague Louis Carl St. Jean.

“We would have a problem, something mentioned in a song about something, and we’d have no idea,” he says. “So Louis would say he’d call his aunt and she said, ‘I know an old mambo,’ and he’d get on the phone with a 78-year-old mambo and play the recording over the phone and get a comment. Old priests saying, ‘I can’t believe they sung that up there like that!’ Or ‘I thought that died out; I hadn’t heard that since I was a kid.’ When we bring this around, we’re playing the voices of ancestors from generations past. It’s a family reconnection project.”

It also shines a light on what was a very interesting time in Haiti.

Excerpt from Spinner.com post by Steve Hochman

The danger of a single story – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. – TED Talks

Reasons for low divorce rate “IN AFRICA” when compared to “IN AMERICA” – African marriages versus African-American marriages; which one is doing better, and why?

A reader sent this to us – an excerpt from an online discussion on Marriage – it was a long discussion but due to space we can only publish this much. ARE THE COMMENTS BELOW TRUE? DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE? LET US HEAR YOUR COMMENTS.
I don’t think that the African American men are doing badly in the marriage sector.
When confronted with issues like this, I like to think beyond the present day situation and look back at our fore fathers. The Blackman and blackwoman are Africans. The fact that they have been in America for so many years does not change that hereditary factor.
Why don’t we understand that the African man today, is just like the African American man today, when it comes to dealing with their women. So, sub-conciously, the black man wants that African world in America, but it is not available. So, they rebel in their own way.
The reason there is such a low divorce rate today in AFRICA THAN IN AMERICA can be equated with the following:
1. Family ties. The African man lives for his people – family and friends, not just for himself.
2. Due to the extended family system, your friends and family can always come in and chastise any of the married couples about their bad behavior. And they will listen.
3. Because almost everybody knows your wife or husband, there is that lowered tendency to go out and cheat.
4. The woman learned to understand that leaving your man because he cheated on you is a waste of time, because the next one will cheat on you, anyway. So, they stay, and with the help of the family and friend, that issue is resolved.
5. The African woman realizes that if she treats her man right, he can always have that fling, but he will surely comeback home.
6. The chances of a woman with a baby getting married to a man without a baby is very low in the African community. As a result, the woman is compelled to stay and make it work.
7. The African man realizes that this can happen to their sisters also, so morally, they stay in their own relationships and make it work.
8. Very few African women try to control their household or their man, no matter how much money they make above his. And those who have succeeded in getting a divorce due to the fact that they are making more money that their husband find it difficult to re-marry, since the people see her as bossy.
9. Most of the African women are circumcised. As a result, their sex drive are not as hot as their male counterpart. But today, that is changing because most of the women are no longer being circumcised, and the difference is visible by the sexual drives of the current generation of African women.
10. And most importantly, because some African societies still support polygamy, the women are not quick to leave a man when he looks at other women, as long as he doesn’t bring her home.
11. The women cheat less than their men. The African man is forced by the family and friends to leave the woman for cheating, but are quick to force the woman to stay even when her husband cheats. Double standard. But that’s the truth.
BUT THIS IS AMERICA, AND THIS WILL SOUND LIKE FAIRY TELL TO YOU. BUT IT IS THE PLAIN TRUTH.
Note that the AFRICANS who moved to the US within the last 10 to 30 years do have the same divorce rate as the African Americans It is like a fairy tale to tell an American that a man is supposed to date several women, all at once. Americans do not believe in allowing their men to have multiple women. The African American men are struggling to suppress their natural desire to sleep with several women, and they are trying to deal with what the society has considered a social norm – one man one wife. So, under the circumstances, they are doing well, to maintain a divorce rate; which although seems high, could have been worse, being that they have the AFRICAN BLOOD IN THEM…

Session with the Godfather of Soul (The Michael Jackson Narrative) By Oliver O. Mbamara

Session with the Godfather of Soul
(The Michael Jackson Narrative) By Oliver O. Mbamara

It is a tea session with the Godfather of Soul
I walk tenderly into the gigantic hall
Certainly a stranger to the environment
Unsure of what the session might well offer.
Tea sessions; I had many of those on earth
But this is a different world from earth

The venue is gigantic and so is the Host
The Godfather of Soul in all His majesty
Gently beckoning with a wave of hand
He utters no words but I hear him say
“Welcome Michael, please take your seat”
The communication is instant, Soul to Soul

Still like a stranger, I approach the seat
It has my name beautifully carved on it
But the Godfather is not looking
Just like others sitting at the table
Teacup in hand, attention on the screen
With cheerful smiles across their faces

I begin to recognize them one by one,
Great artists and entertainers of ages past;
Shakespeare is here and so is Monet
Beethoven is here and so is Mozart
Sammy Davis is here and so is Elvis
John Lennon is here and so is Dandridge.

I can’t name them all for the table is long
But what is it that has their attention so?
I pull up my seat and turn to the screen
Something is going on down on earth
People of all ages, religion, race, and creed
Unite in a display of love and affection

In one corner, I see prisoners doing a dance
Wait…is it the Thriller…Thriller night?
Shows and awards are devoted to a King of Pop
At the Apollo, thousands come together for him
I can’t name all I see for the scenes are too many
Perplexed and confused, I turn to the Godfather

“Are these celebrations truly for me” I ask
“Oh yes Michael,” He says, “they love you dearly”
“But…but…they chided me when I was there.”
“Yes, Michael,” the Godfather says. “It’s only human,
Didn’t your sister Janet, sing it many years ago?”
“…You don’t know what you got till it’s gone…”

“Yes, talk about my sister, my mother, kids, how are they?”
Tears drip down my cheeks as I remember them
The Godfather waves His hand and the screen changes
I could see my loved ones looking strong for me
“They have to know I am well here,” I say
“They know Michael; they just need time to heal”

Just then Farrah Fawcett steps in so heartily
Smiling like an Angel, she takes her seat
“Don’t worry Michael, you will get used to it
I arrived just a few hours ahead of you, but see?
It’s actually healthy, happy, and beautiful here,”
She utters no words but I could read her clearly.

“Okay Michael, finish up for we have to proceed
There’s more work to be done.” The Godfather says.
“More work?” I ask wondering at the Godfather.
“Of course many of us here will like to learn to do this:”
The Godfather stands and tries a funny drag of His legs
“The Moonwalk?” I ask. Surprised to find myself laughing.

“Yes, the Moonwalk, and more” The Godfather replies.
“Some things you teach us and some things we teach you.
That is how it works here for we are all Co-workers.”
The Godfather opens His hand to reveal a white glove
Excitedly, I grab it and scream, “oh, my glove!” and
In a moment, I am on my feet gliding to my moonwalk.

EPILOGUE
Overcoming my excitement, I approach the Godfather
“I have to let them know I see them and that I am fine.”
“Of course, you could be in their dreams ….”
“Godfather…can I just write them now?” I ask
“If you insist, Michael, by all means please write them”
Gladly, I take my seat and begin to write this narrative.

© Oliver O. Mbamara – July 2009
POEMS OF FREEDOM

www.OliverMbamara.com
www.Poemsofsoul.com

The Story of Sam And Esther – A reminder for us to appreciate our blessings! “LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS”