How I see It

Posts tagged ‘World’

Everyday People – August 30th 2016

I met Robert Adams today. He’s a tall African American man with dread locks that reach the small of his back, pulled in a low ponytail. When I first walked into the historic looking high-rise building on Vermont avenue NW, Washington DC, he greeted me with charm and eloquence. He had been typing an email.

“Hold on a second, I’ll finish this email and I can be out of your way”. Just a moment later, he asked – looking down at his computer screen; “So are you in school? Or…” I smiled and told him my education spiel and how I’m working a new job now in addition to this concierge gig (updates about this in a new blog coming soon).

In the few minutes we talked, I found out he’s been playing guitar for 40 years.

“OMG that’s crazy cause I sing too!”, I said, gushing as he pulled his guitar from under the concierge desk and put it in its bag.

“Well then, you should come to our Live Music Monday shows in Silver Spring” he said, the sound of his guitar bag zipper subtle but noticeable as he spoke.

For a moment, I did consider it. I mean, I’ve been thinking about a venue where I can sing with a live band and just have a relaxed time on stage, sharing this gift that God bestowed upon my vocal pipes. As I processed his invitation, he pulled out a card and handed it to me. I looked at the card thinking; I’ll keep this. Maybe one of these evenings. Who Knows? 

“I wanna learn to play. I bought a guitar once, and my fingers just wouldn’t cooperate.

“Hah! see? You know what they say… when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”, he said in response. I smiled at his subtle invitation be my teacher.

A few minutes later, his girlfriend came down to meet him in the lobby for their lunch date. As she stepped out of the building, he stayed back, pulled out a black newsboy hat, the kind with extra room for long locks like Bob Marley’s, and he put it on.

In that moment, I saw the artist in the man. He had gone from a suited up, prim and polished look, to an approachable lover of the arts, just by adding a hat and removing his name brooch.

When he finally stepped out to meet his woman, no sooner had they taken 3 steps before he extended his left hand and placed it on the small of her back; a gesture of protection, and affection. I smiled in admiration as they disappeared down the rather quiet street.

I met Robert Adams today and I saw the meaning of simple happiness. I saw love, passion, art, and life in his eyes and heard them in the words he spoke. It was my pleasure Mr. Adams, and maybe I’ll visit and listen to your show one of these Mondays.

 

I Have No Words

I want to say so many things regarding black people and white police, brutality, racial profiling.

July 5th; Alton Sterling is shot, in the chest, at close range, while pinned to the ground by two officers.

July 6th, Philando Castile is shot, while his four-year-old daughter watches from the backseat of the car. His girlfriend streams his pain live for the world to see.

I have so much grief to express, so many tears I’ve shed.

But I have no words.

Here’s what a poet friend of mine; Jason Nkwain, wrote in response to these incidents.

Jason's Poem

And here’s art by Laolu Senbanjo, that tells a story. It’s the story of what today’s America is like for we blacks.

Laolu's Art

I’m left to grieve for the world, speechless. What can we do? What haven’t we done? What did we ever do?

-Gabriella Aka

We Must Fight

I have a question….

Disclaimer: this question might be considered offensive to some folk.
P.S, it is not intended to spark hate or be offensive, it is intended to spark conversation…

Ok so here’s my question… If given the chance in today’s America or perhaps today’s world, for black people to enslave white people the way they did blacks during slavery, would Black people do it?

Our wounds are deep and our scars will never fade. The history can never be forgotten. But will hurting the ones who hurt us make the pain go away? Will holding on to this pain somehow make our struggles less of a burden?

This is what I say. I say the only way to beat racism is to take our wounds, our scars, our history, and make it beautiful. It’s to rise up to excellence and be majestic and unapologetic about who we are.

We are a people, stronger than chains or beatings, stronger than plantation farms or forced labour. Stronger than abuse or insult. We are strong even when we are at our weakest.

So while we can never forget who we are because we will carry our scars until the end of time, we can also not live in perpetual hate and limit our possibilities. We must not find every excuse to relive our torture, to blame, even though the blame is very justified.

We must wear our scars with pride, and March in strength to excellence, for the strong were born to fight!! We must fight!

Happy Fourth America!

Our Path To Greatness Gala

Last Sunday (May 22, 2016) I had the privilege to attend a gala fundraiser hosted by the Non-Profit organization Our Paths To Greatness. The reason for this fundraiser was to provide affordable education and other resources to Makoko village in Nigeria. This village, suspended over a body of water has over 85 thousand inhabitants, who fish as a primary source of living. The village only has one school for the thousands of children who inhabit the area. optg-infographic-d

OPTG aims to provide oportunities for “underserved africans, equipping them with the skills and resources to compete in their communities and the world, through investments in education, enrichment in arts and culture as well as various projects to aid communities in need”.

I had the opportunity to perform (back up) with Tosinger, a Nigerian folk singer and story teller who uses her art as a means to shed light on African culture and life.

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Left to Right: Gabriella and Tosinger attend the OPTG Gala

I also met with Laolu Senbanjo, a lawyer turned body paint artist who has made a name for himself as the guy who worked with the models in Beyonce’s Lemonade video, and now has a design contract with Nike.

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Left to Right: Laolu Senbanjo and Gabriella at the OPTG Gala

I was accompanied by a few of my fellow Legacy House Inc. members. Jason Nkwain, a poet and Leslie Njuakom, our financial secretary. Legacy House Inc. Is in its beginning stages of creation but we have been around for almost 4 years. Our mission is to expose african Art of any form (music, dance, literature, fine arts, etc ), to mainstream media.

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Left to Right: Jason Nwain, Leslie Njuakom and Gabriella attend the OPTG Gala

I learned so much from being around like-minded indivuduals who strive to excell at what they do and move Africa forward. This gala reminded me of a few things:

a. Keep doing what you love to do. You will see your hardwork come to fruition soon.
b. Do your best to give back. There is never nothing to give. We each have something to offer.
c. Enjoy life. At the risk of sounding cliché, I say we only live once and we must make the best of every moment and recognize how blessed we are each day.

Happiness is a choice. Live life, No Worries.

 

Survive

love.     family.       friends.      dreams.               truths.           lies.           chaos.          sadness.            anger.     hate.    frustration.          meditation.           clarity.         forgiveness.     happiness.        peace.                moments.          memories
LIFE.       SURVIVAL.

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time
When humanity knew harmony
When people smiled and said ‘good morning’
When looks held love

When husbands respected their wives
When wives revered their husbands
When children obeyed their parents

When learning was a passion
When knowledge was pride
When books were treasures

When music was therapy
When words were lyrical
When movies were messages

When men were gentle
When women were classy
When children were innocent

When the forests were greener
When the seas were cleaner
When the air was purer

Once upon a time
When Paradise was Earth.

North + Sahara + South = 1 Africa

African culture is a combination of several, with Africa being the umbrella. The idea that there is an “African culture” that is entirely separate from the Arab cultures north of Africa is exaggerated. I like to think that Arabs and Muslims in Africa share the land with the rest of the continent and their culture or religion is just as “African” as any other.

The issue of an identity crises  facing Arabic nations in Africa only exists because of the mainstream understanding of “African Culture”. When you mention “African culture” it is immediately associated with tribal practices common mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. This excludes most of our northern counterparts making people more inclined to finding a distinction where there shouldn’t be one.

But the issue begs this question; do the nations north of Africa want to be considered African?  They look different, and speak different languages. In addition, being African undoubtedly carries a stigma based in the roots of slavery and racism. I won’t go into a history lesson here. What I’m getting at is this; having lighter skin and soft curly hair plays into their identity and the great, vast Sahara desert divide doesn’t do much to help. It is human nature to identify more with those who share one’s beliefs and customs. As such, Northern Africans gravitate more towards their middle eastern neighbors than they do with their brothers South of the Sahara.

So, how do you include someone who doesn’t wish to be included?

The answer is the Map. Africa was drawn they way it was for a reason. If we are to exclude the northern countries from the African culture, we would have to re-draw the map and make them part of the Middle East.

Yes they look different, talk different and act different. I say we embrace it! This difference only goes to enhance the beauty and diversity of the -in my opinion- highly coveted continent. The Saharan-divide between north and south should be a unifyer and not a divider. We can help each other and learn from each other.

North + Sahara + South = 1 Africa. The future of a unified and thriving Africa depends on this concept.