Tag Archives: Africa

Beware of the Shroud

People are suffering. People who are in a position in society like most of us who have no real say in what the governments of our countries do are being harmed by the actions of those governments. People who may or may not be entirely innocent, but most of who are not committing massive human rights violation are nonetheless, victims of actions that are human rights violations. I am sending my love and condolences out to them and their loved ones on this sad morning. This is not how our world has to be. However, this is how it is for now and it is disgusting and deplorable, it is dehumanizing and it is unacceptable. We are trudging through intolerable times.

The usage of chemical weapons in Turkey that hurt and killed civilians indiscriminately harming children, women, and men;  people who like most of us have no authority in how our countries are run and who were merely struggling to live a life is horrible and inhumane. The United States launching 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles at Syria, supposedly for the usage of chemical weapons, is no better.

The words that follow are merely opinions based on reports, historical knowledge, and critical analysis. They are opinions because the position I hold in society removes me too far from having access to the most critical of facts. However, that is for another discussion and for now I am going to focus my attention on some troubling observations I have made.

After ordering and executing the bombing of Syria Trump claimed that it was for the sake of “national security interest,” but this does not make much sense because Syria is more than an ocean away from U.S. borders. The words national security make me, and I think most people think of preventing a physical attack and for most of history that is precisely what it meant. Yet, over the last few decades and especially since 9/11, the term national security has encroached the realms of economics, resources, and in particular, oil. So, when I hear a playboy, pop-up president say “national security interest” and have every doubt in my mind that any chemical weapons from Syria will ever reach the United States borders, by the process of elimination of definition I am only left with economic and resource security.

Given the record of the United States, and this includes the continuation of the neo-liberal state under Obama, this conclusion is not surprising. The United States is an imperialist state that uses coercion and force to impose its domination on the Global South and the people there. Far removed from the major media outlets of the U.S., and quite literally disenfranchised from any serious debates with the people who are deciding their fates, much of this global terrorism goes unnoticed, or is shrouded in cryptic political language to rationalize to the Amerikan people reasons to support the actions of our government, like for example, chemical weapons. Yet, time and again, the U.S. has invaded, attacked, or destroyed peoples and their homelands under false pretenses. The war in Iraq, prefaced on 9/11 and the search for Osama bin Ladin, was actually planned and approved by the United States Congress in 1998 under President Clinton as the Iraq Liberation Act. The plan was for the U.S. to invade Iraq, depose Saddam Husein, and create a democratic government. 2001 was an emotional time for most of the people in America for many reasons and 9/11 was used as a shroud to rationalize national treaty and United Nations violations as the U.S. went rogue and invaded Iraq. Much the same as the U.S. has yet again gone rogue and bombed the Syrian people.

Not that I would expect Trump to know, but the United States is not innocent of the charge of using chemical weapons. Furthermore, when Trump says that “no child of god should ever suffer” after ordering the bombing of Syrian people, it is clear that Trump believes only some people are the children of god. If that was not the case, then how could he order the bombing of a people? This was yet another ploy to pull at the heartstrings of Christians in the United States to rationalize human rights violations. It is also ironic what this state considers to be suffering, as if, the only thing that causes suffering are chemical weapons. As the results of U.S. imperialism people are starving all over the world, entire ecosystems are being destroyed, people are being forcibly displaced and when they do not concede they are being hurt, imprisoned, or killed. Countries are indebted to the World Bank housed on Wall Street in New York and the people in those countries suffer from the harmful and unsustainable practices of major agro-businesses, lacking adequate access to education, health care, water, and food; basic human necessities. In this country, children are starving and being funneled into the School-to-Prison Pipeline, the system of mass incarceration negatively impacts people of color and migrant communities; thousands of people are about to lose their residences with the reforms to Housing Authority, and millions of people will be put into jeopardy with the constriction of the Environmental Protection Agency. What consists of suffering to Trump and his administration is problematic and suspect.

I do not believe for a second that the U.S. involvement with either Syria or Turkey has anything to do with the well-being of their peoples. It is troubling that I have seen and studied this type of geopolitical posturing in the past and it has never turned out well for the people. That the Russian government is involved only serves to make my analysis that much more stark. Prior to and throughout much of the Cold War the U.S. and Russia were responsible for arming and supplying many of the countries of Africa and the Middle East, and elsewhere. Far from the borders and the citizens of these empires proxy wars were waged in front of the homes of innocent and disenfranchised peoples. Part of it was the Containment Doctrine to stop the spread of Communism, and part of it was for control of the resources of the Global South for Amerikan consumption. Yet, the presidents of this country have had the audacity to shun terrorism as if it was not something that their regimes were fully engaged in and profiting from.

My concern is for the people, who for most intents and purposes are just like you and me, save for the fact that we are behind the feudal privilege walls of the United States. Who have been, are, and will be the victims in wars they have no say in whatsoever. My concern is that this regime is yet again attempting to pull a shroud over the people’s eyes and rationalize further human rights atrocities in the guise of “national security interests.” They are not my interests and they should not be yours. We all have an interest in people not being subjected to tyranny, war, and terrorism by any empire because as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” These acts are acts of injustice and are in my opinion being enacted under false pretenses.

We can do better. We must do better. For all of our sakes.

 

(https://www.congress.gov/105/plaws/publ338/PLAW-105publ338.pdf)

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Hip-Hop Helps Reconciliation in Northern Uganda

Today, there are young people who did not experience the war. Together with national and regional artistes, we can motivate the young generation and improve their talents. We believe that hip-hop can unite everyone no matter what their age

~B Boy Skater George

 

After over two decades of war,

Northern Uganda Hip-hop Culture (NUHC) is working to foster reconciliation amongst indigenous communities in the northern part of the country. With outreach activities, NUHC uses hip-hop to promote harmony and understanding.

nuhc-1

  • NUHC is a non-profit organization which coordinates, educates children and adults in the community.
  • Northern Uganda Hip-hop Culture (NUHC) is an association which unites rappers, break-dancers, graffiti artistes, art and fashion creators, producers and young farmers from the northern region.
  • It was founded in 07th June 2010, with the aim of transforming the lives of young people in northern Uganda, an area which suffered greatly during the civil war, which left the region lagging behind other parts of the country.
  • NUHC offers free lessons and uses the Kitgum Youth Centre for training. Its members regularly conduct community outreach activities in various parts of northern Uganda.

Finance and Materials are needed for:

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Cameras
  • Computers
  • Speakers
  • Microphones
  • Carpets (for Break Dancing)
  • Miscellaneous Supplies

The funding and materials raised for NUHC

will be used to help them continue and extend their work. 

NUHC hosts events during the year

and the organization requires funds to rent venues and sound systems,

for T-shirt printing, and hosting performers and artists.


I will be collecting the money and supplies that are donated.

To donate money for NUHC please follow this link

https://www.paypal.me/renaissancethepoet

and note “#NUHC”

To make a donation of supplies please email me at

renaissancethepoet@gmail.com

and I will provide information on how and where they can be sent


 

Northern Uganda Hip-Hop Culture (NUHC) Background and Mission

 

nuhc-2At NUHC, young learners are taught classes in break-dancing, skating, rapping and graffiti. Through yearly events and weekly classes, participants develop leadership and communication skills. Stories are shared about the war as well as the organization’s aims of peace, unity and love in the communities, villages and throughout the entire world.

“Many people’s hearts and minds are still scarred by their experiences in the war. Music can help to bring everyone together. That is why we are using these activities to spread the hip-hop culture to the young generation,” said Okurut George (aka B Boy Skater George), who teaches break-dance, and is one of the NUHC organizers.

We tell stories about the war because many people still hold hatred to their friends, relatives, brothers and sisters in their hearts. Expressing their feelings helps the healing and hip-hop music can assist this process,” B Boy Skater George added.

During the war, communities and families were displaced, famine was widespread, outbreaks of diseases and people had to live in, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps. These were camps that protected people from rebel attacks. Thousands of people died during the war period. Homes, farmland and animals were abandoned which lead to bitter land disputes. Children dropped out of schools and were forced to join rebel armies. The children who refused to join the rebel armies were killed. Girls were forced into early marriages, raped and/or defiled which resulted in large numbers of young mothers. The level of education in the northern region has been significantly reduced for all children.

 

Alcohol in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Northern Uganda

nuhc-3

Studies among people living in camps in wartorn northern and eastern Uganda indicate that alcoholism is a common problem among the internally displaced populations (IDPs). While most of the pers
ons consuming alcohol are men, it is reported that, increasing proportions of women and adolescents are also drinking alcohol (Barton and Wamai, 1994)8. Women and girls who brew alcohol often ask young children to sell it, thus introducing children as young as 8 years to the drinking alcohol. This is facilitated by mothers giving alcohol to children as medicine because of the cultural belief that alcohol cures coughs and worms among young children. A recent report by MacDonald in 2007 on substance use in conflict-affected areas and IDPs in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader Districts9 highlights a situation of serious alcohol use in the IDP camps of northern Uganda. This situation is attributed to the 20-year insurgency in Acholi land, the lack of security, social displacement, and confinement in cramped, crowded and unsanitary camps and lack of employment. Such conflict-related factors as well as associated problems like HIV/AIDS and other STIs greatly increase the possibility of substance misuse. Macdonald noted that the main gap in service provision for substance users and affected others is the lack of capacity of healthcare and social service providers in the camps to effectively reduce risk taking and facilitate harm reduction services in community settings. Problems of substance abuse, particularly alcohol-related sexual gender-based violence (SGBV), are acknowledged in the camps but very little is done to address these issues or develop interventions relating specifically to the excessive consumption of alcohol.

nuhc-4Oryema Geoffrey (aka B Boy Message), who works as a teacher with George explained, “Although the war ended in 2007, the memories still haunt people. That is why we are using hip-hop to spread a culture which shows that peace, unity and love can lead to success in everything. We may have lost our homes, family members and friends during the war, but now is the time to move on from the past and learn to forgive each other. Being in a long period of strife does not mean that your life and dreams are over.”

 Alcohol and young people

The patterns of alcohol consumption among the youth show signs of cultural influence. Most tribes have a culture of brewing alcohol in homes thus exposing the youth to alcohol at an early age. As young people reach adolescence, alcohol consumption increases due to
peer pressure. The study revealed that young people prefer strong local spirinuhc-5ts which are easily accessible in miniature sachets at very low prices. Young people also engage in binge drinking during public events and parties, at most of which local companies sell alcohol at discounted prices. By age 21 many young people stop drinking, because there is a lot experimental usage before this stage. Limited information about harmful use of alcohol, desire to indulge in sexual activities, peer pressure, stress, poverty and unemployment have caused many young people to continue drinking. This is at times sporadic and may result in accidental poisoning or drowning at beaches as has been reported in the local press.

Today, there are young people who did not experience the war. Together with national and regional artistes, we can motivate the young generation and improve their talents. We believe that hip-hop can unite everyone no matter what their age

~B Boy Skater George


 

 To Contact the Organizers or See More about NUHC

 

WordPress: https://nuhculture.wordpress.com/

 https://www.facebook.com/nuhculture/

Video: Northern Hiphop Camp 2015

In the News:

https://thepollinationproject.org/grants-awarded/leah-walkowski-and-mwaka-benson-northern-uganda-hiphop-culture/

Anger Boils to the Surface

I opened up and started reading the “We Charge Genocide” (1951) petition to the United Nations and I am all but left speechless. Not because I am unfeeling, and neither because I have no words, but rather because I have so much anger pumping through me at the moment as a result of how clearly the system of oppression is detailed. This I expected of a document from the 1950s, so that is not what has gotten me so wound up. It is the fact that these same atrocities and ‘justifications’ (which fall flat on their face) are still occurring today.

Yet, the American public in its apathetic and ‘Holier than Thou” ideological bent likes to parade as though the lives of People of Color have improved and that the conditions we suffer are not horrendous. And this hardly scratches the surface of what the marauders masquerading under the premise of liberty are doing to the rest of the world. They are tyrants wrapped in the stolen cloth of a language of justice and it is time that the shroud be ripped from from their stinking, pestilential bodies to reveal the monsters for what they truly are.

Reclaiming Legacy

Undoing the colonizer’s language is perhaps one of the most important tasks we as revolutionaries can undertake because it is through and by language that we form concepts and ideas about ourselves and the world we live in.

One of the major objectives of the colonizer mentality and activity, aside from the profit motive and the oppression and suppression of people to serve that end, is the disassociation of those people, and in particular the people from the African Diaspora (16th– 19th Century, c.a. 12 million people), from our historical roots, i.e., to dislocate us from our heritage because without knowledge of our heritage, we would have no claim to legacy.  There is nothing more detrimental that has happened to the African community in American than the systematic dismissal of our legacy. By legacy what I mean is that which we transmit to the next generation and generations thereafter such as, capital, land, and companies that remain within the African community’s hands. Instead, what we have been given and what has taken its place is the love for one’s self, that is, individualism. A love for sneakers and cars and many other things that perish with their Planned Obsolescence and are not intended for inheritance and to be transmitted from one generation to the next.

This is the antithesis of legacy and is an American ideal, not an African ideal and is the foundation of capitalism, which is the force that systematically pits us all in competition and against one another. However, while it is observed that many of the so-called lower classes are in competition with one another, and the African community is most in competition with itself for favor in this society based on white-supremacy, what is almost unnoticed is that White Americans understand the system and have knowledge and appreciation for legacy; thus, they, and especially the top 10% of the wealthiest in this society, transmit capital from generation to generation because they have knowledge of where they came from and thus a direction for the future. There is a serious disconnection between what we are being told and what is happening beyond our notice. Those in the top 10% and especially in the 1% of this capitalistic society do not want us to think about the future generations and do not want us to have ownership of capital because the more capital we possess and transmit between generations then that only means that is the less capital that they have access to, to control and keep within their families.

There are two things that if I am correct, then you are asking yourself right now and that is, (i) Why does he keep referring to the African community and, (ii.) How did they accomplish the destruction of the concept of legacy? Well the two are intricately linked and based on conversations that I have had, it is my suspicion that you are not going to like what I have to tell you because it is going to question the very foundation of your indoctrination in this society. It is the term “Black”.  Now during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s-70s and the Black Power Movement, the term Black was reclaimed by an oppressed people and took what was once a derogatory term and owned it. This was something that was necessary and a natural response to being associated with a negative label.  However, the term “black,” has simultaneously removed us from our connection with our heritage and disconnected us from the knowledge of who we truly are; Africans.

This is not meant to infer that the Black Culture which has emerged in American society or any other society is not important because that is simply not true. However, it is an attack on the colonizer’s language and indoctrination. Instead of labeling us African, which is a continent not a country or nationality, or by a country of origin such as, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, or Congo and thereby keeping us connected to our heritage they selected an arbitrary term, “Black,” to call us. I have never seen a black person and I am willing to bet that none of you have either. Although, I will accept that we have all seen many people of varying shades of brown, some of who are darker than others, but never a black person.  Thus, we have been labeled arbitrarily with a term that has nothing to do with who we truly are and for just as long as we continue to accept and use this definition of who we are, for just that long will we remain disassociated from our heritage.  And not being connected to our heritage we will not have a reason to fight for our future.

What they do not want is for us to come together, the entire African Diaspora and recognize that we are all African from many different African countries, but all sharing a common identity and heritage because we are all over the world and supersede state and national borders. Our power unified is much greater than any state by itself because we have infiltrated all levels of the hierarchy and echelons of the societies in which we now live today, and this is so even within the United States. They have power for only so long as we remain separated and in competition with one another as actors within the capitalistic system and it is the term “Black” which separates us. Once we can remove this term from our vocabulary and move beyond the colonizer’s language and see ourselves for whom we truly are, then we can begin to move forward and build our communities together.

At this point we can begin to focus on our legacy, i.e., the capital we are transmitting to the next generation and the generations thereafter. As we build our community infrastructure and begin to focus on financial security we could start our own banking system to provide more of us with the necessary means to gain access to capital. Couple this step with an educational component to teach fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurial practices that will sustain a business in this capitalist society our people will prove to be successful in transmitting ownership from generation to generation. As our communities begin to build the necessary capital we can begin to operate our own educational system so that we are no longer learning only the colonizer’s lessons, but are also instructing our youth and connecting them with our heritage and arming them for life in this system.

Most importantly, even if the formation of our legacy is a little different than what I have proposed, is that reclamation of our legacy does occur. This will occur through reclamation of our heritage and this will be done by destroying and denying the colonizer’s language about us. We are not “Black” we are “African”. This hurtle challenges an indoctrination of our people that is now comfortable and broadly accepted by many and will be difficult to dislodge. But this is not a hurdle that is impossible to surmount, if we put our hearts and minds to the task.

I Am Africa

I am Africa

Because I am a human being,
And attempting to separate me from Africa would be like attempting to separate me from the atoms which compose my being.

I am Africa

Because even though my ancestors were robbed of our heritage, stripped from our homes, ripped from our families, shipped across a vast ocean, and whipped into slavery…

That does not change the fact that Africa is embedded and inherent into the essence of my being.

I am Africa

A fact that no survey, census, application, employer, sneer look or remark, or racist attack has ever let me forget.

I am Africa

Because not only is my mamma, my mammas-mamma, my mammas-mammas-mamma, my mammas-mammas-mammas-mamma, and ad infinttum is Africa

But also because my white/Irish daddy can, if he looked hard enough and long enough find that he too is also Africa

& So, I must necessarily be Africa

I am Africa

Not because I am black, because you can well see that I am mixed

And not because Africa is black because it is not, the definition of “black” is a human construction and as such lacks the sufficient force and power to be the essence of what makes me Africa.

And while it is true that people of dark skin complexion do live on the continent called Africa, Africa is so much more than a place.

Africa is a state of being, a set of values and rich, vibrant cultural traditions that ground us in what it means “to be”.

Africa is the epicenter from which all essence springs forth.

& so, I am Africa
Because I am Africa.

“Live Free or Die Free” by Renaissance the Poet

Intro:

 

the land of the free

the home of the brave

The land of milk and honey

The home that God made

where anything is possible

Americans  Dream

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps

You find that it means

Honor in the Governing

The system is pristine

Equal Opportunity

To Life and Liberty

The Pursuit of Happiness

Just as good as it could be

Guaranteed by the Constitution,

You and me are FREE!

 

Wanna go to College

Wanna have a Family

Wanna start a Business

Wanna tan upon a beach

Wanna teach a math class

Wanna a car that drives fast

Wanna date a pretty girl

Wanna smoke a little grass

Wanna go to outer-space

Wanna surgery your face

Wanna dance through the night

Wanna dress yourself in lace

Wanna practice your religion

 

this… is… the United States: Man!!!

 

 

Verse #1

 

It’s not the way it seems

The system, hyper-stratified

Be a different class of people

and the rules are not applied

In the same distribution

Those Politicians lied

& it’s claimed to be inherent

But Equality’s Denied

 

Have to work twice as hard

to get  half as far

Passed over, looked over

for color less than dark

wanna person with a white face

to fill up all their jobs

the deck is stacked against us

As we try to beat the odds

 

Schools Different/ Rules Different

Damned if we can read

Cues Different/ Whose getting

the teachin that we need

Pipelined into Prison

With a Surgical Precision

Minority; Commodity

Synonymous to Business

 

Slavery never ended

Check the laws and how they bend them

Twisted the amendments

and defend it stupendous

Horrendous, how the Constitution’s

Used to justify

the reduction of a human

to components of supply

 

The prisons privatized

means they’re run by corporations

whose interests are in profits, not

in Rehabilitations

job or social skills,

or how to pay our bills,

But in keeping prisons full

to maximize their Deals

 

With the Congress drafting laws

targeted in clause

at the colored population

to keep us bound in bars

 

And that’s not freedom

Not the Dream that I believed in

Nor Equal Opportunity, even

Though they guaranteed it

 

It’s like Life and Liberty

have conditional properties

of being White and Wealthy

Thus, Defining who is Free

Racist, classist, take your pick

Sexist, homophobic it

Subordinates our citizens

Our Liberty is stripped

How much more so

for immigrants and Refugees within

a system built on fear

that propagates  the hate of men

an image based on lies

to distinguish us from them

So, we don’t stand together

‘cause that, they can’t defend

 

Chorus

Live Free or Die free, but None Will Confine Me

Live Free or Die Free, to Be Free is My Dream

 

 

Verse #2

 

Stripped of our Choice

Somehow we learned to get through

Denied our voice

So then we learned to make do

Robbed of what we valued

& we had to learn to stay true

to our families and our friends

‘cause they needed us to

 

And yet even amidst this hell

we tried to make a home

to work and to build a life

within the boundaries shown

but resources were limited

so, we had to make our own

Although they were not all legit

We had the kids to feed at home

 

see, not only was I black

and hated just for that

But I was subjugated, stratified

and pushed unto the back

I was ripped from my family

like they did to Malcom X

but I had to get them dollars

and I wasn’t earnin checks

 

 

‘cause, you have to be a citizen

to get any respect

but for a Refugee

there’s continuous neglect

my family fled from Africa

when I was only two

I was forced into foster care

and I barely made it through

 

…was never granted status

‘for they put me to the streets

and I had to find a way

So could make those ends meet

 

So, I turned to dealing drugs

Just like many of us was

Who was livin in disgust

‘cause options not robust

But alas we had need

and we thought we had been freed

We were Victims of the system

Being chased by I.C.E.

Deportation from this nation

What they threatened in our faces

And attempted to displace us

From our families’ loving graces

Immigrant or Citizen

it makes no difference

Liberty’s been stripped

of all its eloquence

the Constitution’s shredded

Every time it comes to race

ain’t no equal opportunity

in this God forsaken place

 

But we’ve got to bind together

take a stand, it’s now or never

I know we can do better,

than to bow to this oppressor

Alone we may be weak and silenced

Inside our hearts are scorned to violence

But as our voices rise in non-compliance

We will find our heart’s desires

 

Chorus

Live Free or Die free, but None Will Confine Me

Live Free or Die Free, to Be Free is My Dream