Friday, December 08, 2017

Wanda's Picks Friday, December 8, 2017

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

1. Veronica Blair (aerial straps) in Mittens and Mistletoe, Dec. 22-28 at Dance Mission joins us to talk about her aerial career as well as The Uncle Junior Project

2. Maestro Michael Morgan joins us to talk about the seasonal favorite concert, Hallelujah! Let Us Break Bread Together, Sunday, Dec. 10, 4 p.m. at Oakland's Paramount Theatre.

3. Aldo Billingslea, Interim Artistic Director, Lorraine Hansberry joins us to talk legacy in the future tense this morning as the season ends and begins again for a Bay Area premiere Black Theatre Company. Don't miss 2017 Soulful Christmas, Dec. 14-24 at the Burial Clay Theater at the AAACC.

4. Graham Lustig, Artistic Director, Oakland Ballet, joins us to talk about his Nutcracker,12/23-24 at the Paramount Theatre and "Jungala" based on Kipling's Jungle Book, March 10, 2018 at Skyline High School in Oakland, a collaborative work that tells the story from the perspective of the Indian or South Asian characters.

Visit: http://tobtr.com/10451105
                                                       

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

1. Dinizulu Gene Tinnie joins us to talk about “The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Dec. 2.

He is a visual artist, educator, writer, and community activist based in Miami, Florida.  Among the projects with which he is involved are a Slave Ship Replica Project and an annual Middle Passage remembrance; the restoration of Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, Miami’s fondly remembered onetime “Colored Beach” of the Jim Crow era; the Key West African Cemetery; the historic home and legacy of theologian Howard Thurman in Daytona Beach; and the preservation and commemoration of the Native and African American Seminole heritage at Loxahatchee Battlefield in Palm Beach County.

He recently collaborated on the design and installation of an exhibition at Fort Lauderdale’s Old Dillard Museum on the history of Black educational philosophy from ancient times to the present, before during, and after slavery.

2. Dr. Marsha Guess, MD and Dr. Kathleen A. Connell join us to talk about women's pelvic health.

BIOS:
From 2006 until 2015, Dr. Guess was an assistant professor of both obstetrics and gynecology and urology at the Yale School of Medicine’s Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery division in New Haven, Connecticut. She joined the University of Colorado’s Urogynecology division in 2016.

Dr. Guess’s research interests include increasing women’s knowledge about pelvic floor disorders and understanding the pathophysiology of these conditions, particularly as they relate to pregnancy, childbirth and sexual dysfunction.

Dr. Guess has been the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award on three occasions and has also been recognized for her commitment to community service. She has donated her time and efforts locally, as well as in Africa and Central America, where she has participated in medical missions treating underserved women who suffer with pelvic floor disorders.

BIOS con't.:
Dr. Connell’s practice focuses on the female pelvic system with special medical interests in pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, reconstructive pelvic surgery.

Dr. Connell’s practice focuses on the female pelvic system with special medical interests in pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, reconstructive pelvic surgery.

As a leader in the field of urogynecology, Dr. Connell participates in a number of professional organizations, including as a fellow of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a member of American Urogynecologic Society and the Society for Gynecologic Investigation.

She is passionate about advancing scientific research in the field of female pelvic medicine, running the Anschutz Medical Campus science laboratory for University of Colorado Hospital where she leads the OB/GYN department’s clinical and translational research.

Dr. Connell’s own research focuses on the effects of aging and other women’s issues on pelvic support, with the ultimate goal of preventing pelvic organ prolapse and developing new treatment options.

3. Angela Wellman, (BA-University of Missouri/Kansas City Conservatory of Music 1983; MM-University of Rochester/Eastman School of Music, 1994) Trombonist, scholar, educator and activist Angela Wellman has performed with the McCoy Tyner Big Band, Joe Williams, Al Grey, Slide Hampton, and other noted musicians. Raised in Kansas City, Missouri, she was nurtured in a musical family, and is a third generation musician and music educator. She is a recipient of national, state, and city Arts awards and fellowships for performance study and music education, among which is the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Study Fellowship to study with trombonist Steve Turre. In 2005 she founded the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music (OPC) to provide quality, affordable music education. In 2016 she received the Cultural Key to the City from Mayor of Oakland. She is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and plans to have it completed in 2019.




4. Taiwo Kugichagulia-Seitu, storyteller, and praise singer, joins us to talk about the Jazzy Nutcracker and Go Tell It: A Harriet Tubman Christmas Story, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, 2017 at Fremont
High School in Oakland.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Give Thanks and Remember the Ancestors Nov. 22-24, 2017

Enjoy this day of Remembrance and Thanksgiving. I just got this lovely tribute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH6BoivsJgc

Join ICCAAMP on this first Annual Tweet.Text.Facebook.Email for the Ancestors: Nov. 22-24, 2017


Join ICCAAMP on this 1st AnnualTweet.Text.Facebook.Email Social Media Black Friday Blast for the Ancestors: Nov. 22-24, 2017

1.  Wed.-Thurs., Nov. 22-23, begin sending warm-up tweets, texts and emails. 


#REMEMBERtheAncestors

#LIBATIONS4AfricanAncestors-MiddlePassage

#COMMEMORATEAfricanAncestors


2.  The image on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and TEXT and EMAIL is our Adinkra logo: Nyame Dua (which is the altar for ritual). Also post the brochure on FACEBOOK  and attach to emails.   


3.  On Black Friday, Friday, Nov. 24 the message changes: we will Tweet, post on Facebook:BLACKPower2BLACKAncestors.  The Andinkra changes to "Fawohodie" or Freedom, Emancipation, Independence: 
fawohodie
fawohodie

FAWOHODIE


"independence"

 freedom, emancipation


If there are local events to highlight, I would put them on the Facebook post, especially alternatives to spending with the capitalists.   

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wanda's Picks Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

1. Ann L. Chinn, Executive Director, Middle Passage Ceremonies and Portmarkers Project (MCAPP) joins us to talk about the progress of her project which creates monuments to honor African people's entrance into this country on slaveships

The Executive Board of Directors is chaired by Executive Director, Ann L. Chinn. She is the Project founder and has worked as an advocate for children and families in Washington, DC, a textile artist, a retailer, organizer of a collective artists’ market, and historian.

 


Photo: Kegan Marling
Photo: Kegan Marling



KAT COLE
 CO-DIRECTOR
Kat Cole has had the pleasure of performing for 13th Floor Dance Theater, Amie Dowling, EmSpace Dance, and kelly kemp company/number 9 dance. For over 5 years she served as Development Manager and later Program Manager for CounterPulse, and frequently works as a production manager and grant writer for several artists and dance companies in the Bay Area. Her work in the performing arts has led her to delve further into visual storytelling, and she is currently an MFA in Film student at California College of the Arts. Current works include a documentary short about family and acceptance as told through the partner of a transman, and an upcoming project on a foot painting artist born with quad phocomelia. She has been a guest speaker at the University of San Francisco and Eventbrite, and her article about grassroots self-production was published in In Dance.

ERIC GARCIA

CO-DIRECTOR

Eric Garcia is a choreographer, performer, filmmaker, teacher, and activist whose feet are deeply rooted in the Bay Area. He proudly serves as Production Coordinator with Fresh Meat Productions, Sean Dorsey Dance, and the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. He has previously served as a Development Associate for Quinn Associates, and has held administrative/production positions for artists and organizations such as Dancers' Group, Z Space, and CounterPULSE. Inspired by personal narrative and storytelling, Eric has collaboratively worked with groups of incarcerated men, senior adults, and self-identified non-dancers on various multi-media and site-specific projects. Eric also co-hosts DRAG SPECTACULAR SPECTACULAR, a sporadic cabaret of drag curiosities at The Rite Spot in San Francisco. Eric has performed works by Katie Faulkner, Sean Dorsey, Amie Dowling, 13th Floor Dance Theater, Sharp & Fine, FACT/SF, The Anata Project, LEVYdance, Project Thrust, and many others. He was the Spring 2017 choreographer-in-residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and a 2016-17 Emerging Arts Professionals SF/BA Fellow. He is the recipient of the 2017 CHIME Award with Margaret Jenkins Dance Company.


3. Della Reese made her transition Monday, Nov. 20. To honor her life, we play an interview recorded when she was visiting San Francisco for a concert at the Razz Room at Hotel Nikko (Feb. 8, 2012).

Link: http://tobtr.com/s/10395635




2.  Kat Cole and Eric Garcia, Detour Dance Company, join us to talk about the world premiere of presents the world premiere of FUGUE, a site-specific dance theater event that traverses the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District collecting stories of queers, people of color and longtime residents of the city en route to a fabled “new city," Dec. 1-10.















Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Wed., Nov. 8, 2017

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

1. Luisah Teish on Sacred Space (archived: Wednesday, March 14, 2012).

2. Orisa Urban World Conference 2017: Adium & Khalilah Madyun with Daktari Shari Hicks join us to tell us about the Festival which started Nov. 2-Dec. 1.  http://www.orisaurbanworldfestival.com/schedule.php

Link to show: http://tobtr.com/s/10390659

Songs: Zion Trinity's "Opening Prayer for Esu Legba," WolfHawkJaguar's "Prosperity Movement."

Monday, November 06, 2017

African American Day of the Ancestors: Reviving Our Gravesweeping Ritual, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017

Gravesweeping Brooms

Iya Wanda Ravernell, founder Omnira Institute

Iya Wanda Blake

Iya Wanda Ravernell and Iya Wanda Blake completed the ritual

Sweeping the Graves

Sweeping the Graves

Gathering Flowers to put on the clean gravemarkers

Awon Ohun Omnira Choir members

Iya Nedra in front; Wanda B.  and Wanda R

Iya Wanda R. and Iya Wanda B. clean the big headstone

Sweeping the graves

Sweeping the Graves

Iya Nedra

Sweeping the Graves

Iya Nedra

Sweeping the Graves


Iya Nedra

Iya Nedra with her Egungun 

Sweeping the Graves

Markings at the Gravesite

Iya Wanda B. (L) with Iya Wanda R. consult

Iya Wanda B. (L) with Iya Wanda R (R) consult

Iya Wanda Ravernell sweeping the graves

Sweeping the Graves

Sweeping the Graves

Sweeping the Graves

Feeding the Ancestors

African American Day of the Ancestors

Feeding the Ancestors

Oya returns

African American Day of the Ancestors

African American Day of the Ancestors

Water bowl

Pouring out the water

Pouring out the water

Returning with empty bowl

African American Day of the Ancestors

African American Day of the Ancestors


Farewell Ancestors song
Wanda Ravernell, founder, Ominra Institute




African American Day of the Ancestors



African American Day of the Ancestors
Sweeping the Graves of the Ancestors November 5, 2017

Sunday at Evergreen Cemetery Omnira Institute hosted for the second year, an African American Day of the Ancestors, with a revival of the Gravesweeping Ritual, an African American tradition where the community gathers to honor the ancestors by cleaning the gravesites.  This particular grave sweeping is special because it honors those people killed in Jonestown, Guyana 59 years ago, many of the deceased children—

As we stood on the hill, a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay just beyond the site of the mass grave is marked with a plaque dated November 18, 1978, the date of the massacre. Brother Tobaji Stewart (Apon, Iya drum), Calvin Holmes (Itotele drum)  and Brother Sosu Randolph (Okonkolo drum) along with Awon Ohun Omnira choir led the ensemble through the sacred chants and songs—

We met at the cemetery gates on 64th and Camden in Oakland where we washed ourselves with blessed herbal waters to protect us along this journey of remembrance. We then lined up behind the drummers and beside singers and walked in procession up the hill to the Jonestown Memorial.  The majority present, dressed in white, walked up the hill—others met us halfway there like Iya Nedra who then joined us. An elder, she said she was doing this for the ancestors as she struggled up the steep path alone, refusing my assistance.

I wore funeral attire from Ghana—red and black with Gye Nyame symbols in the pattern. The Adinkra symbol represents the omnipotence of the creator.[1]  The ancestors keep us connected tangibly to a spiritual system that honors the unbroken relationship between the realms—the earth and the heavens, the seen and the unseen, the born and yet to be born.

I’d just learned that morning that Sister Intisar Sharif had died the previous day, a beautiful woman whose life was dedicated to our children, especially orphans. As head of the Early Childhood Education Department at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, she started a certificate program for grandparents who were now parenting their grandchildren. This support group grew into a large community support system replicated throughout the bay area, maybe country.  She also was a pioneer in making sure black children had quality preschool education—a Montessori trained scholar, this methodology was one she used in communities traditionally without such innovations in child development.

Brother Tobaji spoke about the meaning of the opening song—it spoke about the bodies of the deceased and the state they were in when they left . . . . I remembered the tragedy at Jonestown and how for days and weeks the dead were left to rot and decompose in the heat where they lay.  By the time forensic doctors and investigators were ready to identify the dead, their identifying marks were gone.  Evergreen cemetery was the only cemetery which agreed to bury the over 900 bodies – I don’t know what the area is called, but there is a bench nearby and a building.

Tobaji Stewart pours libations
I saw the names of my cousin Mary Lewis there on the hill.  I’d just called her name during morning rituals and then as I walked back down the hill, I saw other family names on headstones. 

As Brother Tobaji, drummers and singers, played Mojuba: Recitation of spiritual lineage, we were invited to call the names of our ancestors, then Iya Wanda Ravernell handed out two sheets of paper to each of us with names of Jonestown Massacre Victims to recite.

We called the names of the 900-1000 people multiple times.  This year I had numbers 550-687.  Last 
year I had 1050 to 1049.  We wanted to let these ancestors hear our cries as we lifted their names, silenced for so long.  Iya Nedra brought her Egungun Mask this year; initiated into this society she spoke of the ancestor dances and lamented the fact that she had not danced in years.  Her Egun costume was on the opposite end of the Oya altar.  She took off her shoes, feet covered in efun or white chalk and danced. 

Tobaji Stewart pours libations
In front of the drummers were several altars—with water and flowers and a rod with ribbons on it.  Symbols were drawn along the concrete borders surrounding the site where three large grave markers held the hundreds of names— Baba Tobaji Stewart poured libations and called the ancestors to open the ceremony once we were at the burial site.

Iya Wanda Blake had brooms with ribbons and different colored handles prepared for the sweeping and she also had prepared a special sweeping drink for the ancestors, for the earth, for us which she poured on the stone markers as we sweep the graves as we began Oro Egun or songs for the ancestors with Awon Ohun Omnira.

This was the part I had been waiting for, the actual sweeping. As I looked at the names of those lying below—I felt even sadder that so many lives had been taken from us.  Iya Nedra spoke of the children, families left behind and the impact this violent loss had on her students whom she hadn’t known were “those children.”

Several times Iya Wanda Ravernell took her wand and waved it over our heads, walked around the graves sweeping the energy, Oya, diety of the gravesite, very much present that afternoon as she always is.  The spirit of the children was also present that afternoon—I wish I’d brought some candy for them and some bubbles from the car.  Next year.

As the emotions rose several members present felt the ghosts, spoke in tongues, relayed messages from those departed ones. We were attentive to the missives and promised to remember and act.  It was a humbling, fullfilling experience to be present once again on a November afternoon to sweep the graves of our ancestors.

Baba Tobaji cooked a meal for the ancestors – black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread and yams.  After the graves were swept, and flowers laid on the tombs, the meal was served.  The liturgy continued nonstop through the entire ceremony.  The songs then shifted to those honoring the deities—Elegba, Oshun, Oya, Obatala, Shango. . . . The Farewell song – hands waving so long, until next time— closed the rite  and then Tobaji spoke about the significance of closing the circle.

We then had to wash ourselves with the herbal bath. 

Iya Nedra had put efun or chalk on our foreheads—it was a full moon that weekend and the lunar energies were also felt.  My friend, Neter Aa Meri drank a special brew he’d made for the full moon ceremonies that weekend—rum, vodka, red chili peppers, garlic, ginger . . . for the moon which is in Aries.

Wanda Sabir at Dad's gravesite that evening
I took a plate to my father in Hayward.  He is interned at the Chapel of the Chimes in Al Jannah Ar Rahim (Garden of Mercy).  His birthday was two weeks prior, also on a Sunday.  He would like the black eyed peas and yams and greens with corn bread.  I saw other families with their loved ones that night at the cemetery visiting with their dead. I had a bit of the meal with Daddy, so he would not feel that he was eating alone.  It was delicious.

Fred Ali Batin Sabir, her father with meal












[1] Allahu Akbar—God is greater.