Tuesday, October 13, 2020

25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area Reflection, October 11, 2020

Thanks to everyone who was able to attend the 25th Annual Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area in Zoom. The beach ceremony was by invitation. Here is a link to both events and a commentary on the first: Beautiful day!

Wanda Sabir Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, African Ancestor Ritual was really wonderful. We gathered early morning distanced so that we could keep each other safe. The beauty of the gathering evident in the patience and comradery, love and compassion. Youth helped with the altar this year, young women named for goddesses, MAAT and KALI and a young man accepted Brother Neter Aa Meri's call for assistance. We saw them take the food to the ocean, distribute flowers to those assembled along with candles and other items. As they ate the potatoes, rice and other items, I recalled years past when I'd arrive at 4 AM as Neter Aa Meri was building the altar and explained the various items on the table as I tried to name all the images in the backdrop poster.

 King Theo led a wonder Holistic African Movement, preceded by Brother Dar's lovely rendition of Negro Spirituals such as Many Thousands Gone and Old Freedom. Uncle Bobby and Sister Beatrice joined Sister Wanda Sabir in recalling the largest Slave Revolt in US History in January 1811 in Louisiana, just east of New Orleans. Last year, in November, hundreds of us gathered to reenact the March to New Orleans for Freedom. The morning wasn't as cold as the previous year. Anchoring the morning rituals were the spiritual crew from Wo'se Sacramento, with Ministers Alicia Teasley and Imhotep Alkebu-lan. They were a great team. One could feel the earth cracking open as Minister Imhotep walked the circle with the Unity cup inviting everyone to dip his or her hand into the liquid. I had on gloves and thought about viral transmission briefly as I complied.

 Lessons for future gatherings would include hand sanitizer for everyone and a hand washing station. We were distanced and Brother Che, lead officer in the Community Ready Corps and when available, founder, Turha Ak, have been volunteering security for MAAFA SF Bay for a number of year stressed the importance of wear masks and covering one's mouth and nose and distancing. Sunday there were four men securing the space for us. Brother Dar opened the Ritual with select Negro Spirituals, Many Thousands Gone with Oh Freedom. We liked it so much, we had him sing it again before the morning Ritual closed.

King Theo shared an African Holistic Movement that like every activity that morning, spoke to the themes: unity, sacred spirit, Sankofa and Ancestral wisdom. From the songs Minister Alkebulan had us singing to Min. Alicia's invocation to the creator, we were reminded that we are the medicine. The healing lies in each of us and in the collective application of the medicine. Wellness is communal.


The drummers were outstanding! The balance of the energies evident in the interplay. Ayikwei H T Scott's set up was unique. He had an array of percussion instrument enhanced electronically-- enabling his orchestral presence. Ava Square-Levias led us in movement which helped up located once again within our person our strength. She is one of my favorite choreographers, because she consistently lives the movement, that is, Black or African Liberation Movement as an embodiment.

 Oscar Grant's Uncle Bobby or Cephus X Johnson and Sister Beatrice joined me in remembering the Slave Rebellion Reenactment last year in November. It was Dread Scott's brainchild, to have a body of Africans dressed in period costumes March to Lew Orleans along the same path these Africans in January 1811 marched. Hundreds of us traveled from throughout the country to New Orleans where we met East along the River where the sugar plantations were located. Each morning over several days we met to pick up machetes, muskets or cane knives, eat breakfast and the board buses to take us to the site. We walked on levees along a road, the same trail of tears our ancestors whose names we called, marched for freedom-- our rallying cry, just as theirs, "Victory of Death." "On to New Orleans." "We're Going to End Slavery." NOLA was the political seat at that time, so the Africans were headed there to discuss their demands.

 Sister Beatrice said that even though this was a reenactment, most of us were not acting. It took several conversations for the white crew who didn't comprehend what African Americans present were reliving and the emotional toll this March to NOLA was creating. The two then began to call the names of people killed by police. Desmond Iman invited those present to release pent up emotions attached to anger and grief so that we could free ourselves. As he shared a personal story of loss he has carried since age 11 when his 11 year of cousin who lived in the south was a victim of racial terror.


We closed with a ringing of bells for the 400+1 years of African American history 1619-2020. The beach was empty almost to the end. We started a bit after 6 AM and ended at about 8. We went a bit over. The plan was to end at 7:15, sunrise.


The Ritual at the beach was by invitation to keep people safe. A few people showed up whom we did not know, but they were few. The commemoration was virtual this year.
Here is a link to both: Virtual 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration Part II


and Virtual 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration Part I

Thanks to Brother Kwalin Kimathi who hosted the first program (as well as gave tech support as did Sister Koren Clark) and to Brotha Clint and Sister Afua who joined him in Zoom to talk about the MAAFA Tradition in the SF Bay. We also want to thank Melvin Phillips who videotaped for the livestream broadcast and thanks to Brother Che and the other men from Community Ready Corps for onsite security.


Special thanks to King Theo Aytchan Williams, Iya Ava Square, Iya La Tanya Carmical, Ayikwe Scott, Baba Darinxoso Oyamasela, Mins. Alicia Teasley and Imhotep Alkebulan, Desmond Iman, Brother Neter Aa Meri and his assistants; Sistar Gwendolyn “Sunrise” Traylor; Brother Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Sister Beatrice X Johnson. For the second part of the 25th Anniversary of MAAFA SF Bay Area, we want to thank Sister Karla Brundage for her tech support, Sister Koren Clark for tech support, Sister TaSin Sabir for her website and media development; Brother Mike Jackson, Montgomery MAAFA and ICCAAMP for his media support; and of course all the contributors to the Virtual 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration in order of appearance:

Sister Wanda Sabir, host; Sister Opal Palmer-Adisa, Ph.D.; Brotha Clint; Baba Kola Thomas; Seestah IMAKHÜS Njinga Okofu Ababio, Brother Alonzo “Zochi” Young, (Ethiopia); Iya Mahealani Uchiyama; Aishah Bashir and her mom: revered ancestor, Iya Jaquelyn Hadiah McLeod; Joan Tarika Lewis on her cousin, revered ancestor, Sister Makinya Kouyate; Baba Ustadi Kadiri & Sister Bisola Marignay on revered ancestor, Brother Tahuti; Ms. Nia McAllister; Sister Bisola Marignay, Ph.D.; Iya Queen Hollins, Earthlodge; Iya Osotunde aka Mama C (Tanzania); Kumasi-- Black Liberation Pledge; Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, MD., revered ancestor, “A Liberating Black People’s Prayer for Peace” (©1996); Ms. Koren Clark on her father, honored ancestor: Dr. Syed Malik al Khatib (1940-2014); Min. Alan Laird, M.Div; Baba Eddie Abrams -- Umoja House; Karla Brundage -- The Black Arts Movement; Min. Mxolisi, M.Div., Wo’se co-founder; Sister Piwai (Zimbabwe); Sister Omitola Akinwunmi (Uganda)—she will lead the Virtual Maafa Townhall Workshop 11/22, 2-4 in Zoom; Sistar Gwendolyn “SunRise” Traylor; Brother Mehib Holmes, Atlanta, GA; Sister Kharyshi Wiginton, “MeToo,” Texas; Brother Bryant Bolling and Sistar Zakiyyah Capehart-Bolling; Honored ancestor, John Coltrane for his “Love Supreme” -- and to all those who are a part of the MAAFA Commemoration SF Bay Area Global family.


Don’t forget to visit the MAAFA SF Bay Area Boutique for gifts.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Wednesday, October 7, 2020


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!

PUSHfest@ 15 Season starts Oct. 7 

Guests:  Raissa Simpson, PUSHFest founder and director, is joined by Antavius Ellison is a Los Angeles, CA based choreographer and educator. His dance background incorporates an array of dance genres, building a new and approachable visceral movement language, using his art to empower people, communities and societies.


Bhumi B Patel is a queer, desi artist/activist who creates intersectionally feminist performances from a trauma informed, social justice-oriented perspective. Patel uses dance as a pursuit for liberation and decolonization. She creates movement outside of white models of dance but wants you to know that some of her best friends are white.

 
Bios:

Antavius Ellison is a Los Angeles, CA based choreographer and educator. His dance background incorporates an array of dance genres, building a new and approachable visceral movement language, using his art to empower people, communities and societies.

 

Bhumi B Patel is a queer, desi artist/activist who creates intersectionally feminist performances from a trauma informed, social justice-oriented perspective. Patel uses dance as a pursuit for liberation and decolonization. She creates movement outside of white models of dance but wants you to know that some of her best friends are white.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

West Oakland to West Africa Partner Introduction

 Hi my name is Wanda Sabir. I do a lot of things: teach writing at a community college, work as a legal advocate with incarcerated women, write for a newspaper, host a radio show, travel to Africa whenever I can (smile). 


I was just in Ghana last summer where I traveled the country, from Aburi to Cape Coast to Takrodi and Kumasi, Tamale and further north. Wanted to go to Wa but there was a bit of fighting there. I met a king, visited the national forest, the alligator park and several sacred sites where African ancestors were captured and sold. At one site, where the women have the beautifully painted huts I could see Burkina Faso in the distance. We traveled to the kente village where we learned to weave cloth and made adinkra cloth. That was fun. I also attended an African Women Buddhist conference. That was different-didn’t know there were so many Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō chanters in Ghana.

I wished I could have visited Abijan, Lome, Porto Nome, and Lagos since I was so close, but I only had four weeks. I stayed at the University of Ghana at Legon in the guest housing my final week there. It was pleasant and affordable. My favorite outside the north was at El Mina with One Africa, Seesta Imakhus.

Next time, I am going to start in Wa, go over to Burkina Faso and then go back to Kumasi.  I want to spend more time at Nana Abass’s place too. He is a traditional healer. I didn’t get to the butterfly sanctuary. I love butterflies. Ghana is the land of the ancestors—butterflies are everywhere. I saw a lot of butterflies in Madagascar too. The Malagasy love the children and the elders and honor their dead.

The butterflies made me feel really welcome, that and the way everyone was always in ceremony, preparation for the next life—the big funerals on Saturdays, people dressed in black and red and the funeral bouquets and the fun caskets. Reminded me of New Orleans and Haiti and Bahia Brazil where black folks take funeral rites seriously. So do folks in Zimbabwe—especially Great Zimbabwe, Congo and Burkina Faso, oh, Ethiopia too.

My poem: Buried Placenta is a stream of consciousness poem. Hope you like it. My last line is: “I come from a place where everything is always everything and time is nothing –reality the laughter of a child.”

I look forward to reading your poem.  Thanks in advance.

Peace and Blessings,

Wanda

My poem

Buried Placenta
By Wanda Sabir

I come from a place without form . . . tossed on waves too high to reach, I decide to drown in baptismal waters on altars lit by ancestors

She follows me cross country . . . cross town . . . cross oceans to settle in a place where discomfort is normed, depravation expected, civility absent, wonder its saving grace, this place where we do not belong, yet stay.
I come from a place where drums carve tunnels into freedom . . . machetes ready to chop limbs and hands too close, too close to chains dismembered – refashioned into jewelry we parley for favors and fortune.

I come from a place where floors have seams snakes slither through into toilets where they wait for willing butts to pierce.

I come from a place so close to plantation pain that Grandmamá Josephine strings her daughter from a rafter and beats her with leather straps. . . . It is a post traumatic slavery relic . . . a nightmare she relives, her girl an imposter she beats until she awakens, no until her brother shakes her and she stutters into the present ashamed.

She does not ask forgiveness.

I come from a place where rockets were tested after the Russians made it to the moon first.
Pennies were my mother’s inheritance as NASA took her family’s land and they relocated to New Orleans where brick and mortar awaited them—a checkered casket with their names on it.

I come from a place where kinfolk know each other and bloodlines traverse uncommon lines and those familiar too – we are one people.

I come from a place where no one is immunized, historic contagions people the Mississippi swamps red clay, white chalk. 

I come from a place where illegitimate becomes legitimate on palates and tongues too sweet for anything else. . . . I come from a place where indigo blues swing low like chariots carrying me home. . . home Charity Hospital ward where I was yanked from between thighs shaking with fear – forceps creasing my skull.

I come from histories too bleak to remember, to majestic to forget, too wondrous to contain in a single life.  I come from a people too big for small minds, yet they try, try to contain us and are shocked into alternative realities – shot into orbits still spinning and spinning – dizziness indicative of this state of utter intoxication and disequilibrium.

I come from Angola . . . Congo . . . Dahomey . . . Yorubaland – places where spirit lives in everything, the earth Oludamare’s temple. 

I come from a place where everything is always everything and time is nothing –reality the laughter of a child.
 

 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Virtual MAAFA Townhall Sept. 27, 2020

We are really excited to have Ms. Alita Henderson joining us to talk about her project: Say I Love You to Yourself. Ms. Henderson writes: "Taking the time to pause and reflect on your personal needs…your self-care needs is the reason I promote “Say I Love You To Yourself”.   I facilitate a safe space to engage in this work and help you get reacquainted with what nurtures and nourishes you.  This formula will be different for each of us. 

"The external forces of our society (institutional racism, the minor aggressions) that we normalize or internalize, negatively impact our whole person (mind, body & spirit). We must change this paradigm.  We must become the balm to our wounded souls. We must learn to speak healing over ourselves and to one another.  Learning to appreciate ourselves is the start of this healing path."  

Bring your pounding sticks. Ava will lead us in a song. 

Upcoming: October 25, 2-4 p.m., Iya Arisika Razak will host an ancestor meditation workshop. 

You can bring a person of African Ancestry to the meeting with you. Let me know the person's name and email address in advance. These events are free, but we ask for a donation for the facilitators. The 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration is next month too. Sunday, Oct. 11, 11-1:30 PM PT we will have a Virtual MAAFA Commemoration Ritual broadcast via Zoom and maybe YouTube. I have attached a flier. The beach ceremony is by invitation only. You can watch this (6 AM PT- 7:15 AM PT) as well via Facebook.com/maafabayarea

Friday, September 11, 2020

Memorials 911@19

Greetings Students:


9/11 traumatized a nation, and Covid-19 is another collective trauma. What do you think? How are you coping? 
Jack Saul, psychologist (Links to an external site.) who specializes in trauma response, speaks about his work and collective healing. 
 
In the clip here, the two therapists talk about rituals and how they help people cope with loss and the grief that comes with death and dying.  This nation is certainly mourning-- lots of loss. 

This is also the anniversary weekend of the bombing of the 
16th Street Baptist Church (Links to an external site.) in Birmingham where 4 little girls were killed and many more children injured, Sept. 15, 1963. 

Sept. 13 is the anniversary of the 
Attica Uprising (Links to an external site.) in 1971 at the prison in NY State and the death of Tupac Shakur (Links to an external site.)Sept. 13, 1996 (Links to an external site.)


Sept. 11@19

I wrote this post for my students and then thought that it might be too political, so perhaps I need to keep my opinion to myself. 
 
Greetings Students:

Sept. 11, 2001.  Some of you weren't born yet.  Others were so young, you watched your parents' faces to understand the magnitude of this major attack, not on American people, per se, but on what this "first nation" stands for.  How dare another nation or people try to take down the greatest nation in the world?! And so began the posturing and xenophobia against people who dressed like Arabs or Muslims from Arabia. 

Clueless? It's probably time to watch Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) again -- just for perspective. 

My mother said my generation were shocked, because we'd never experienced war on American soil. Born in the early '40s, my mom had rehearsed what to do if attacked by another nation. There were blackouts and bomb shelters people would practice sheltering in just in case a raid happened. 

There are so many stories of brave citizens who saved others and lost their lives Sept. 11 along with firefighters and other first respondents who survived yet now live with illnesses acquired while working in the toxic debris and chemicals released after the crashes. 

Mosques were bombed and women and men were cautioned against wearing their traditional attire less someone attack them. 

George W. Bush started the war against Afghanistan and Iraq and brutally killed its president Sadam Hussein, an ally, and countless civilians-- men, women and children. He publicly decapitated him. It was gruesome and barbaric and like the towers being hit by the planes and falling was on instant replay for months, so was this leader's killing.  Bush tried unsuccessfully to find Osama bin Laden; however, his successor, President Obama did and with gusto gave the command and the Navy Seals shot him and then buried him at sea. 

Since there is no body, I am not a believer. Bin Laden could still be free. 

I think prisoners of war are still in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay.  Some of you might remember the scrutiny armed forces came under for its use of torture on captives there.  

Some of the changes to American Civil Liberties affected our privacy, losses we never regained. With the passage of USA Patriot Act 1 and 2, the government is now able to use surveillance techniques formerly illegal without due cause if it feels a person is a threat.  This pertains to children too.

Our phones can be tapped and our homes searched without warrants or even our presence. There was a story of children at Oakland High questioned without their parents by the FBI because a teacher felt a classroom discussion was seditious and called the bureau. Those children, one from an immigrant family dropped out of school. He was that frightened and his parents, who didn't speak English well, were also intimidated. 

The Weapons of Mass Destruction were a hoist. Such arsenal were never found. The war one of oil and power dynamics rather than any real threat against this nation. There we were and here we are now almost 20 years later in the same place once again. 

While we stacked the deck against all people and nations who claimed Islam as a faith, at home a major hurricane, Katrina, flooded all of the south from Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia to Florida; however, the City of New Orleans became the poster child for the storm, not for the storm, but for the breached levees and the subsequent neglect and suffering and killing of innocent NOLA residents by white vigilantes with rifles and guns patrolling bridge and roads and not letting people on foot flee the waters climbing steadily higher.  Armed civilians and police told evacuees to turn back and those who did not, were shot and killed.  President Bush and the federal government let hundreds, thousands of people die through inaction when aid was refused from abroad which could have saved so many. 

There was a memorial placed at the bridge August 29, this year, where so many people were shot and killed.  What happened in New Orleans was so bad, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney called for a  tribunal to gather the stories for Congressional Record. I don't know if any families or individuals were compensated, but it helps that a record was made and the stories captured, because the same thing happened and is happening in Lake Charles where Hurricane Laura knocked out electricity and water for the majority of the citizens. 

Many people cried conspiracy when 9/11 happened. Those folks said it was an inside job. The skyline is forever changed in New York-- no more World Trade Center. We have our "Where were you. . . " stories." 

I was at Laney College that morning teaching an English 201 class that started at 7:30 a.m. We huddled around the phone and listened as the planes crashed in DC into the Pentagon building. My neighbor was supposed to be on that flight, but she called in sick and someone else covered for her. 

Next year will be the 20th Anniversary. 2001 marked the end of my column in the Oakland Tribune. I'd had a column, Good News, for three years. 

From Weapons of Mass Destruction to targeting people based on their religion to seeing how unfair and unjust this is, to starting this trend all over again with the new administration. 

9/11 traumatized a nation, and Covid-19 is another collective trauma. What do you think? How are you coping? Jack Saul, psychologist who specializes in trauma response, speaks about his work and collective healing. 
 
In the clip here, the two therapists talk about rituals and how they help people cope with loss and the grief that comes with death and dying.  This nation is certainly mourning, so many people have died, are dying and will die. 




Friday, August 28, 2020

The 2020 March on Washington - 8/28 (FULL LIVE STREAM)

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Wed., August 19, 2020

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!  

Today we open with an interview with Omar Sosa, who is in town for a special live streaming concert with friends: Josh Jones, drums, Sheldon Brown, reeds • Daria Nile, vocals, today, August 19, 5 PM PT at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. Connect to the Live Stream on YouTube or Facebook

We then rebroadcast our August 14 interview with Randall Kline, Artistic Director, SFJAZZ to talk about the Jazz Masters NEA Awards Concert Collaboration, August 20, 5 p.m. PT 

Link to show