The Emancipation celebration in Linden, though not a big shout, nevertheless had a sprinkling of activities that somewhat stimulated and enlivened the African spirit on a higher plane that was wonderful. Missing in action was the youthful ‘Flame of the Arts’ cultural group which did a splendid production last year, having this time around accepted an invitation to perform out of Linden. But it seemed as if the Linden Museum foresaw their absence and took up the slack by organizing a cultural evening that included seasoned performers like Dennis Parkinson, Grace Chapman and Isha Shaw; young and upcoming poetess Naiomi Alsopp; Winslow ‘Brother P’ Parris; ‘Duffy’ Christian; dance; drumming by ‘Porridge’ and team; Regma Dance group; African model and headwrap display; cornrow; Queh Queh dance and of course the sale of African dishes. It was an evening that was well spent and fairly attended, a worthy effort that many will be looking forward to come next celebrations. As mentioned above, there were a few other happenings in different styles. And I want to commend those young people, ‘True Friends Production,’ who for their contribution put together a television
programme and presented awards in the form of plaques to folks who they thought were deserving. However I do have one hitch with one awardee, I was not comfortable and could not go along with the explanation that was read out for the Prime Minister being named an awardee. This was for being a PM for 19 years, and that he had looked after the interest of the community, with especial attention to roads, water and electricity! I don’t think any Lindener will endorse such accreditation; it just doesn’t add up.
That apart, I want to highlight the segment with Jonathan Adams who made a valuable presentation and fielded question from the listeners. That aspect was very enlightening and offered African folks in the community an opportunity to glean a modicum of information on their vast and glorious culture, although it was not original or new (ASCRIA comes to mind). Still I must big him up for his decision to embark on an African history class, whereby both young and old could ‘ground’ as they exchange, research and explore the enormous range of Africa’s inventions, achievements and contributions to science and humanity. These groundings would be reminiscent of the days when there was an Ascria branch in the community conducting such sessions. As a matter of fact, there were always pockets of groups from time to time of conscious brothers and sisters meeting, imparting and practising their traditions in an effort to bring about some African awareness. I know that there are still individuals around who possess a wealth of knowledge on Africa and her people, and while self-awareness is of vital importance, it is so much more enriching and purposeful when this knowledge is disseminated among its people and not remain parochial. There is a parallel here between knowledge and money that is so apt: money they say is like manure; it stinks when piled up but is much more fertile when spread. Similarly knowledge seldom fulfils its true purpose when it is in abundance and locked up inside an individual, not to mention the fact that the continent of Africa is too astronomical to be covered by any one person. However this move by Adams is a splendid one, and though many have often times lamented the plight of our people, especially our youths who lack consciousness, are lost and seem not to care one hoot, that in itself should not deter those conscious ones who really care.
I did note the observation made by Adams during his presentation when he said the darker the darkness the more penetrating and discernable the tinest spark. Once this is borne in mind then we will not beat upon ourselves and become unduly stressed over the apparent uncaring behaviour of those we encounter. The rape, bombardment, bastardization and unmaking of the African was no play; it was thorough, so those conscious ones should not lose heart but keep the faith. As someone said, ‘We are far from where we want to be; not yet what we ought to be, but we sure have come far from where we used to be.’ So those like Mr Adams can step forward and take a bow that they have made a gallant effort in the struggle to restore African pride and dignity. Mr Adams also addressed the annoying question of Africans being lazy, thus contributing to their lowly status and impoverishment. Like all other people Africans do have their share of laid-back, don’t-care-a-dam, lazy folks, yet a broad brush has been used to paint all Africans as lazy, in spite of the fact that we have worked like Trojans, and despite the backbreaking work we have been subjected to through slavery. As Adams rightly asked: “How can a people who with shovels removed over 100,000,000 tons of earth be lazy?” They have also reclaimed large portions of waste land, dug the many canals, etc, and, let me add, built the subways in the USA for free, and worked the cotton fields from can’t see in the morning to can’t see in the evening. One sure bad thing about this stereotyped labelling of Africans as lazy, is that it has been sold to us for so long that we have come to accept it as true. It is a good sign that we are beginning to see sparks and a twinkling of African awareness, a rebirth of consciousness, for as we grow to respect our own, it will at the same time behove us to do likewise to others.