by Wanda Sabir
Maafa Dance, Drum, Song rehearsal
The Maafa Ritual begins before dawn on Sunday, Oct. 11, about 5:30-6 a.m., at Ocean Beach on the Great Highway at Fulton Street in San Francisco. Invited are Black people from different places on the planet interested in honoring our ancestors who perished in the European Slave Trade and its aftermath via colonialism and other forms of genocide like incarceration, terrible occurrences or reoccurring disasters felt today.
The Maafa Commemoration time or season is also a celebration of our lives and a healing from the residual traces of the Trade which affect our ability to practice love and unity and trust with other Black people. We will have a film festival, perhaps an art exhibit, lectures and perhaps panel discussions on the residual psychological effects of enslavement and how we can heal from the trauma.
If you’d like to help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring your children, instruments like drums, breakfast items to share – preferably vegan, not pork or its by-products. People are encouraged to dress warmly and traditionally. Since this is a funeral, people wear the traditional African white, but this is not a prerequisite.
Professional photography is not allowed nor photography during the ceremony. We document the ceremony and have already granted permission. The ceremony is about two-three hours. We are finished by 9 a.m. and always can use help in the beach clean up. Please call (641) 715-3900 ext. 36800#.
Maafa Poetry Reading at Mo’joes’
Youth Poetry Reading and open mic on the theme of Maafa, Saturday, Oct. 17, 12-1 p.m. Free. Mo’joe’s is on the corner of Dwight and Sacramento in Berkeley. For information, contact email@example.com.
Save the date: Nov. 15. Unity Concepts and Maafa San Francisco Bay Area present a spoken word/jazz showcase. Stay posted: http://maafasfbayarea.com (calendar).
Oakland International Film Festivalhttp://www.oiff.org/ opens the evening of Thursday, Oct. 8, with “Soundtrack of a Revolution” at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland. The festival closes Oct. 14 with “Sabar.”
The Maafa Ritual slide show will be incorporated into the screening this first weekend. We are putting together a theatre party for that night and can get group ticket rates, so let us know if you’d like to be a part of our party.
Mill Valley Film Festival
The Mill Valley Film Festival runs Oct. 8-18. Recommended films: “Troupers: 50 Years of San Francisco Mime Troupe” (Oct. 16, 7:30); “Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense” (Oct. 11, 4 p.m.; Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m.); “Mine” (Oct. 17, 5 p.m.; Oct. 18, 12:30 p.m.); “Precious,” based on the novel “PUSH” by Sapphire (Oct. 8, 7 p.m.); “Race to Nowhere” (Oct. 10, 3:30 p.m.; Oct. 18, 5:45 p.m.); “Skin” (Oct. 13, 6:45 p.m.; Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.); “Soundtrack for a Revolution” (Oct. 10, 7 p.m.; Oct. 18, 2:45 p.m.), “Tapped” (Oct. 11, 6 p.m.; Oct. 14, 9 p.m.); “White Wedding” (Oct. 14, 7 p.m.; Oct. 17, 1:30 p.m.); “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” (Oct. 17, 6:45 p.m.; Oct. 18, 3:15 p.m.); “The Messenger” (Oct. 15, 7 p.m.). Visit mvff.com or call (877) 874-6833.
‘Man Alive’ by Community Works
Community Works presents “Man Alive: Stories from the Edge of Incarceration to the Flight of Imagination,” Thursday, Oct. 1, 6:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m., and Saturday, Oct.3, 8 p.m., at USF’s Studio Theater at the Lone Mountain Campus, 2800 Turk Blvd., San Francisco. Tickets are $10. Buy them online at brownpapertickets.com/event/79891.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet presents Jason Moran in “The Moroccan Project” Oct. 23-Nov. 1 at Yerba Buena Theatre in San Francisco. Visit linesballet.org or (415) 978-2787.
Great Concerts beginning Oct. 10 with Eric Reed, Oct. 28 with Cindy Blackman: “Another Lifetime” at the Great American Music Hall. Visit http://www.sfjazz.org/concerts/2009/fall/index.asp.
Blending American and West African influences into a sound all its own, Toubab Krewe has set “a new standard for fusions of rock ‘n’ roll and West African music,” or Afropop Worldwide. They’ll be at the Great American Music Hall on Oct. 8. Visit http://www.gamh.com/artist_pages/toubab_krewe_100809.htm.
Since forming in 2005, the magnetic instrumental quintet has won a diverse and devoted following at performances everywhere from Bonnaroo to the legendary Festival of the Desert in Essakane, Mali, the most remote festival in the world. The band developed their unique sound over the course of numerous extended trips to Mali, Guinea and Ivory Coast, where they immersed themselves in the local culture and studied and performed with luminaries.
Benefit Concert: Bridge of Life
On Thursday, Oct. 1, at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., in Berkeley, $10 general admission, at 8 p.m., dance the night away to the music of Antióquia and Chinyakare and support the important work of 501(c)(3) organization Hope Through Opportunity with the bush orphans of Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro region. Visit www.lapena.org.
Rie Shontel, playwright, actress, brings her one-woman show “Mama Juggs” back to the San Francisco Bay Area for a one-night run at The Marsh Theatre, 1062 Valencia St., near 22nd Street in the Mission. The show is Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. In this one-woman show, three women face late puberty, breast-feeding, old age – and breast cancer – in their Oakland housing project living room. Rie Shontel delivers an intimate view of these women through song and laughter. Visit http://www.themarsh.org/.
Mama at Twilight: Death by Love
The play is a beautiful and complex view of a family. It touches on universal issues of love, family and gendered roles. It also looks specifically at the challenges of a Black family facing the tragedy of HIV/AIDS infection. The play is bold, fresh, courageous and not to be missed, one of the Bay’s finest productions of the season. This production is not recommended for small children. Teenagers and family groups are encouraged to attend. Tickets are $10 for seniors, students and per person for groups of five or more, $15 general admission, $20 tableside seating with amenities (group rates available). Call the box office at (510) 208-1912 or, via email, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wanda’s Picks Radio
Don’t forget Wanda’s Picks Radio on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network, at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks. I have interviewed Chike Nwofiah, director of “Sabar,” David Roach, director and founder of OIFF, Rie Shontel and HuNia Bradley (Sept. 30), plus many others.
8th Annual A Safe Place Walk-a-thon
This Saturday, Oct. 3, A Safe Place is having a fundraiser followed by a party, featuring, among others, Suga T, who is a survivor of domestic violence and spousal abuse. The artist/entrepreneur is working on her undergraduate degree now as she sponsors several nonprofit ventures, many which empower girls, such as “Be About It.” Visit http://www.beaboutit.biz/. She also has a new CD about to drop. Visit http://www.asafeplacedvs.org/. There’s a $10 registration fee and the walk and program are at the Lake Merritt Boat House at about 8 a.m. Check the website for the details.
Assemblyman Sandre Swanson sponsors a “Free Financial Advice and Planning Assistance Conference” on Saturday, Oct. 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. For information, visit http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a16/financial_planning.aspx?utm_source=eAlert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Swanson_Financial_Planning_Resend.
“Songs From the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey” is the debut Concord Jazz CD from iconic pianist and bandleader Ramsey Lewis. At the age of 74, Ramsey Lewis has not only continued to be active in the jazz world, but he’s also forging ahead with a newly inspired creative instinct as a composer. He opens at Yoshi’s in San Francisco this Friday, Oct. 2, through Sunday, Oct. 4. Visit yoshis.com.
Gil Scott Heron, Ise Lyfe
The renowned griot Gil Scott Heron makes a rare Bay Area appearance this weekend at the Grand Ballroom in San Francisco, 9 p.m. Ise Lyfe and Orgone open for him. Visit http://www.goldenvoice.com/shows/.
On the fly
Zulu Spear perform at Ashkenaz this month, and DJ Jeremiah Kpohand, the Afrobeat Nation from Monrovia, DJ Said Adelekan, Maisha Productions with Fat Souls Records have some great Africa Rising shows planned for October: Friday, Oct. 2, 9 p.m., at Baobab Village (Formerly Bollyhood), 3372 19th St., San Francisco, (415) 970-0362, tickets $10 in advance. There’s another show, “Fela Kuti Birthday Bash,” on Saturday, Oct. 10, 9 p.m., at Cafe Du Nord, 2174 Market St., San Francisco, (415) 861-5016, tickets $12 in advance. There are two shows on Oct. 31, at both venues: the DJs will be at Baobab Village holding it down, while Sila and the AfroFunk Experience will be at Cafe Du Nord. Visit http://maishaproductions.com/calendar.html and www.fatsoulsrecords.com.
Amiri Baraka is in town in November celebrating his birthday. He is speaking at the San Francisco Main Library’s Koret Auditorium on Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. and celebrating his birthday at East Side Cultural Center later in the month. Michael Franti is speaking about the Cuban Five tonight, Oct. 1, at the Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship. “Capitalism: A Love Story” opens this month. Michael Moore has done it again. Don’t miss this wonderful work that tells the story of robbery and theft which is killing the promise of this nation. If you need a wake up call, this is it. Oh, I really love Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.” Gladys Knight is in the film, along with Mary J. Blige.
October is Black Panther Awareness Month
It’s been 43 years since the founding of the Black Panther Party in October 1966, and it’s time to celebrate that legacy and to carry it on. Visit www.itsabouttimebpp.net for information about art exhibits, panels on women in the party, a film festival and a job fair. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Zaccho Open Studios
‘Ghetto to Gaza’ in San Jose
Last night at DeBug, a wonderful organization in the South Bay, while waiting for M1 of dead prez to arrive to talk about his trip to Gaza in July, I met a wonderful Palestinian-Cuban poet-activist-feminist and undergraduate at San Jose State, Karimah Al-Helew. Karimah shared a poem with us, “Dying to Survive,” which reflected her family’s experience in occupied Gaza.
Karimah spoke of Viva Palestina founder, British Member of Parliament George Galloway. Galloway created the humanitarian aid convoy in 2008-2009 in response to the Israel-Gaza conflict. Karimah worked on the organizing effort here for the July convoy which M1, Cynthia McKinney and others participated in.
We opened the program with libations for the ancestors – Palestinian, Pan-African and others. I then asked persons present to introduce themselves as the seating arrangement lent itself to such intimacy. Before the program began, I met the Wallachs, Donna and her sister Darlene, who both have spent significant time doing anti-Zionist work and Palestinian liberation work. Darlene spoke of being captured and imprisoned, then deported minus her passport. She said she had never flown in such fine style before. These were the same detention centers Cynthia McKinney spoke of when she was here last month – prisons full of African refugees.
The two sisters make regular presentations called “Eyewitness Gaza” and are a part of the Free Gaza Movement and International Solidarity Movement. Darlene spoke of accompanying Palestinian fishermen and how the Israeli soldiers – frogmen – target these vessels, arrest the owners and then remove costly equipment – GPS systems which are needed to navigate the boats.
Along with 41 other human rights workers, Donna and Darlene broke the Israeli blockade of Gaza on board the two Free Gaza movement boats, SS Liberty and SS Free Gaza, which arrived to Gaza in August 2008. For their speaking schedule, visit http://tiny.pl/3r2m.
Darlene, Donna and Karimah spoke of the humiliation Palestinians suffer daily under occupation from the settlements built literally over their heads – the Palestinians in the valleys below – to the claustrophobic containment experienced by all in Gaza who can’t visit cities just next door.
The soldier asked, “Who threw rocks today?” When no one confessed, he pulled out a photograph which had the child in question, dressed in the same shirt, his face the center of the bull’s eye. He could have been shot. His father immediately cuffed and chastised him. The soldier, no more than 18 years old, told the elder man, he “needed to have better control of his child.”
When I asked Karimah if the father hugged the child once they were inside, she said, no, that the families were in such a state of siege, they didn’t have the tools to even question the emotional toll such violence can have on a child, let along the entire family.
“This is why refugees in the states don’t ask for such resources.” This is one reason why Karimah is studying social work.
Dying to Survive
by Karimah Al-Helew
This is a dedication
A movement of thoughtful innovation
It is long past due, our compliant lack of vocalization
Is simply as explosive as silent incineration
Maybe you view this as my obsession
Or maybe you just prefer consistent digression
But the subject never dies,
and unlike the media of the many –
uncorrupted death tolls never lie
Leaflets of justice
Blown to pieces
Ashes collide in the shifting breezes
Burning the children, making creases
Fold after fold on a war torn heart
Bruised and broken, given an unfair start
Why should you care?
You live in the U S of A.
Thirteen million of your tax dollars
goes to Israel per day
Twisted spines like “S”s
The physical embodiment of the snake that oppresses
No you don’t understand
Scoliosis can be treated
But kids born in Gaza
Are accused first, then defeated
Innocents vibe on nutrients, way past depleted
And mothers collect blown body parts of babies, who’s lives had been cheated.
PTSD for the veterans of war
A damaging disorder for the ones who swore,
What about PTSD for the children who are born
veterans, victims from birth
Living and laying and breathing in occupation’s mirth
Born into an altered history
Reliving a lying past
Rather than looking to our present
We see our future dying fast
Usually in life, we take on one role
And those who take on too many
Are the ones who like control
So when you convince the world
That you are a victim
And at the same time manage an occupying system
What choice do you leave, the ones that are oppressed
Living in your shadow, what do you think manifests?
Ayat Al-Akhras, may she rest in peace
17 and half years old
Now a legend tenfold
People argue this is a crude mentality
And now I ask you
Why could this be?
What drives a 17 year old
To blow herself up
In the kindest of words
Her life must have been pretty messed up
There are many forms of resistance
most methods are not accepted
but imagine what breeds
when you’ve constantly been negated, neglected and
I dedicate this piece
To the ones that have died
To the ones that have fallen
To the oppressor’s cage-like lies
I hear suicide bombers
Get critiqued every day
But were you to stand face to face
What is it that you’d say?
The one thing, no one is daring to admit
Is that something must be wrong
For such a method to exist
I don’t claim to understand
This vision that is planned
Nor the minds of the many
Who have been named martyrs already
That is incomprehensible
To you or to I
Because we don’t live smothered by oppression
Dying to survive
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at email@example.com. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com for an expanded version of Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m. and archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network, at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.