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

Planning your marriage and childbearing: An African perspective expressed in a musical video

In this musical video, Africa’s juju king, Chief Sunny Ade and beautiful songbird Onyeka Onwenu remind us all to plan before getting married or having children. Produced at the prime of both musicians, this musical collaboration is one of the best, if not the best relevant music collaboration of its time. The music remains relevant today due to its very meaningful topic. This is good music with good lyrics and meaningful message from two of Africa’s most talented musicians.

Enjoy the music.  LYRICS (in STANDARD ENGLISH) PROVIDED BELOW.

My young girl with so much love to give, This thing called love is a serious affair
Think well before you agree, If you love life you will plan it well
If you love me you will wait for me

My dear friend, there is love ahead, Take your time and don’t spoil it
If you make children, Are you ready to care?
If you love life, you will plan it well. If you love me you will wait for me

Having babies, is no joke, You will feed them, give them cloth
And give them love too, If you are not yet ready to carry the burden
Why put it on another one’s shoulder?

Plenty children is said to be assurance for old age, Papa said we should marry
Mama said we should bear children, Plenty children with no food to eat
Makes life so much trouble, If you love me you will wait for me

Happy parents give happy children, Happy family leads to a happy country
Plan well and enjoy your life, If you love me, you will plan with me
If you love me you will wait for me

CHORUS: Wait for me, baby plan with me

Lyrics translation from (pidgin to standard English) By Africanblogs  (www.blogs-africa.com)

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

Complete Version of President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World from Cairo, Egypt

BIKERS IN NIGERIA (Photo of the Week)

BIKERS IN NIGERIA (Photo of the Week) submitted by O. Adaba

BIKERS IN NIGERIA - Photo of the week submitted by O. Adaba

BIKERS IN NIGERIA - Photo of the week submitted by O. Adaba

Coming African Film takes on Women trafficking and Smuggling of African Artifacts

A soon to be released  African feature film takes on illegal trafficking of women and the smuggling of African Artifacts (out of Africa and) to Europe and America.

SPADE: THE LAST ASSIGNMENT is written and directed by Oliver Mbamara of THIS AMERICA and SLAVE WARRIOR. Below is a one minute trailer of the feature film shot both in Nigeria (Nollywood) and the United States of America.

Visit the film’s website www.Spademovie.com for details and how to get a FREE SCREENING PASS to see the entire film. Screening and Premiere will soon be announced.

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Saving Children Branded as “Witches” in Africa

Mags Gavan, Redrebel Films

CRARN Children accused of being witches and wizards, protesting outside Gov's headquarters

Even as we celebrate love, hope, and unity across the world with the dawn of the Obama era, let us remember those who may not have the voice loud enough to bring attention to their plights. Sometime ago, we brought your attention to the plight of the people of the Niger-Delta whose environment have been and continues to be polluted through gas-flaring and other oil production related activities by some of the world’s biggest and richest oil companies. (To read details and see video please scroll down)
Now, we bring you the story of thousands of children branded witches and wizards by some religious and local priests and  institutions in Africa. We wonder what could be the convincing proof for subjecting these children to instant condemnation, harm and death. Also, we wonder how many children have been mistakenly or ignorantly killed because of this belief. For the full story, please see our NOTICE BOARD

NOTE: One British charity worker is fighting to help the children stigmatised as witches.He decided to help raise money for the refuge – the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (Crarn) – and try to persuade the parents to take their children back. He has also helped to build a school for the children who are refused places at local schools.
“Any Christian would look at the situation that is going on here and just be absolutely outraged that they were using the teachings of Jesus Christ to exploit and abuse innocent children,” says Mr Foxcroft whose expose of what he describes as “an absolute scandal” will be screened in a Channel 4 documentary on Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 9PM.

To help these children, please visit http://crarn.tripod.com/id6.html

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Yes, We Can! – The Chant of a New World

Grant Park Chicago - Crowd listens to Obama's victory Speech

Across the world, from America to Africa, Europe, Australia, Asia, and more, crowds of people  with different races, color, gender, and calling,  came together to celebrate the dawn of a new era.  Many were touched and some openly shed tears as President-elect, Barack Obama gave his victory speech. Below is a poetic impression. Please enjoy!

Yes, We Can!
(The Chant of a New World)

Hearts of joy, faces of hope, smiles of love
A sea of heads, a multitude of people
Chanting voices, echoes and rhymes
Across the world, we celebrate the moment
As tears of joy stream down our cheeks

Undivided by any seeming difference
Race, creed, gender, or preference
We hug with love and friendly warmth
And wave in appreciation of history made
Evidence of a nation that has come so far

The 44th President has come with hope,
And we are reminded of our better nature
From Kansas, USA, to Kenya, Africa
Ready, willing, renewed, and eager,
Yes, we can overcome our challenges

Poems of Freedom
© Oliver O. Mbamara,  November 6, 2008

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