by Wanda Sabir
Break the Silence Congo Week Activities
The Congo is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today where nearly 6 million people have died since 1996, half of them children under 5 years old, and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped, all as a result of the scramble for Congo’s wealth. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II. However, hardly anything is said about it in the media. Can you imagine 45,000 people dying each month and hardly a peep from anyone in the age of the Internet? This is literally what has happened and continues to happen in the Congo. There is a media blackout about Congo and no worldwide resolution to end the conflict and carnage there.
Now there is a very exciting development throughout the globe. In October 2008, students and community activists in 35 countries and 150 university campuses from the U.S. and Canada to England, Belgium, Germany, France, Brazil, Jamaica, Norway, Korea, Ghana, Mali, South Africa, Colombia etc. organized events dealing with the Congo – films, lectures, demonstrations and more – in their communities and on their campuses. They called the undertaking “Break the Silence” Congo Week, a week of activities in solidarity with the people of the Congo.
The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise awareness about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on behalf of the people of the Congo. Congo Week II will take place from Sunday, Oct. 18, to Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009. Here is the lineup of events in the Bay Area:
Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 p.m.-4 a.m., at Cornelia Bell, 1018 Pine St., Oakland: Nkembo, Nkembo! African Dance Party with legendary Bay Area DJs DJ Lenoir, DJ Omar, DJ Damion, DJ Elembe and DJ Burt spinning Soukous, Reggea, Mbalax, R&B and Rap. Fee: $20 or $10 with cell phone donation.
Sunday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m.-12 noon, at Bobby Hutton Park, 18th and Adeline St., Oakland: Community Prayer.
Sunday, Oct. 18, 1-8 p.m., at the Black Dot Café, 1195 Pine St., Oakland: Films and discussion: “The Corporate Plunder of Africa,” “Dollars and Danger in Africa,” “Africa: the First and Last Frontier.” Food and beverages available. Fee: $5 or free with cell phone donation.
Monday, Oct. 19, 7-9 p.m., at the Malonga Casquelourd Center, 1428 Alice St., Second Floor, Oakland: Congolese Dance Class with Regine B. Ndounda. Fee: $12 or $11 with cell phone donation.
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 8-9:30 p.m., at Dance Mission, 3316 24th St. at Mission, San Francisco: Congolese Dance with Makaya. Fee: $12 or $11 with cell phone donation.
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 3-6 p.m., at San Francisco State University, Cesar Chavez Center, 1650 Holloway Ave., San Francisco: Film and discussion with Mike Kabangu on “Black King, Red Rubber, White Death”; Congo Dance & Drum Presentation by Visual Sounds of Africa. Fee: Free with cell phone donation.
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 7-9 p.m., at San Francisco State University, Jack Adams Hall, 1650 Holloway Ave., San Francisco: Congo-Diaspora Dance Workshop with Lungusu Malonga, Rehema Bah, Isaura Brazil, Constant Massengo, Mbay Louvouezo, Lakiesha, Makaya and more. Fee: $10 or $8 with cell phone donation.
Friday, Oct. 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland: “Be Part of a Change Agenda in the Congo” presentation and discussion by Dr. Patrick Cannon, CSUS, Nkusu Muanza, Boona Cheema and Muadi Mukenge with performances by local Congolese performing artists and groups. Fee: $5 with cell phone donation.
Saturday, Oct. 24, 1-2:30 p.m., at the Malonga Casquelourd Center, 1428 Alice St., Second Floor, Oakland: “Kongo Suite Congo” Dance Workshop with Muisi-kongo Malonga and Regina Califa. Fee: $15 or $14 with cell phone donation. 1:00-2:30pm
Saturday, Oct. 24, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at the Black Dot Café, 1195 Pine St., Oakland: Film and discussion: “The Heart of Africa.” Fee: Free with cell phone donation. Congolese dinners for sale.
This information was sent through the courtesy of the Congolese Dance & Drum Workshop and Fua Dia Congo performing arts, www.congolesecamp.org. For more information on Congo Week activities, contact Rehema Bah, AfricaTesito, Creating African reConnections, (510) 764-2449, email@example.com.
On the fly
Brava Theatre’s season opens Sunday, Oct. 18, and the Mill Valley Film Festival concludes Sunday, Oct. 18. There are many great films screening on the closing weekend at the Rafael Film Center. You can’t go wrong. Visit www.cafilm.org and http://www.brava.org/.
Maafa Youth Poetry Reading
Don’t forget to come out Saturday, Oct. 17, for the Maafa Youth Poetry Reading. They’ll be writing and sharing 1-2 p.m. and reading their poetry 2-3 p.m. (new time). Asha Brundage is hosting at Mo Joe’s Coffee Shop, 2517 Sacramento St., Berkeley, (510) 704-8500. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘The Self as Super Hero: Exchange and Response’ Reception
Support art and resiliency skills in schools on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 3 to 6 p.m., as California College of the Arts’ faculty members respond with their own new works to artworks by 16 youth artists featured in ArtEsteem’s “Reflections of Me and My World” 2009 Exhibit held this past May. This will be a time to encourage youth to further their arts education.
Exhibit dates are Oct. 16-28, at the Oliver Art Center, California College of the Arts, 5212 Broadway, Oakland, with special evening hours, Wednesday, Oct. 2. Normal gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
‘A Dream Interrupted, A Life Reborn, A True Love Story’
KayRod Productions and the Bay Area Performing Arts Collective presents “A Dream Interrupted, A Life Reborn, A true love story” about a family facing its greatest challenge. Performances are Saturday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m., through Sunday, Oct. 25, at 3 p.m., at the Malonga Cultural Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland, (510) 978-0510, email@example.com.
‘Bravo! Hope, Home and New Horizons’
Celebrate 29 years of innovative African American theater at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s Gala on Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (LHT) was established in 1981 to present high-quality, professionally directed plays by America’s foremost African American playwrights; provide employment and career-building opportunities for local actors, directors, designers and technicians of color; and foster youth development and cultural enrichment through instructional workshops and special outreach programs. LHT develops and presents work that explores, celebrates and reflects the lives and experiences of African Americans believing this important cultural expression to be an indispensable part of the American culture.
Now celebrating 29 years, LHT is one of the leading African American theatres in the nation. Founders Stanley E. Williams and Quentin Easter still serve, respectively, as the organization’s artistic and executive directors. LHT’s productions reach over 20,000 theatre-goers annually, with a strong base in the African American canon, lively musicals and hard-hitting social-political dramas by such leading artists as Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker and experimental works by Adrienne Kennedy. Our stage has been graced by such acclaimed artists as Danny Glover, Ntozake Shange, Ted Lange, Ruby Dee and the late August Wilson, Esther Rolle and Ossie Davis.
Tickets are $150 until September 13th, and $175 until Oct. 17th, Saturday, Oct. 17th 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.. Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, 600 Stockton St., San Francisco, (415) 345-3980, www.lhtsf.org.
Climb aboard the J-Church Oct. 17 and 18 for San Francisco Trolley Dances, where Kim Epifano’s Epiphany Productions will take audiences out of the theater and into the streets to see some of the Bay Area’s most acclaimed companies perform outdoor, site-specific works. This year’s choreographic treats include works by Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance Theater, local Mission favorite Deborah Slater Dance Theater, fusion company Deep Waters Dance Theater, cutting edge improviser and choreographer Kathleen Hermesdorf, Mexican Folklorico duo Jorge Rodolfo De Hoyos and Rosamaria Garcia, and the champion SF Marionettes Synchronized Swim Club at Balboa Pool.
Other performances await, so bring the whole family along for a ride to see this freewheeling festival of modern dance – now boarding the J-Church! San Francisco Trolley Dances start from Mission Dolores Park near 19th Street and Church. Six two-hour guided tours leave every 45 minutes beginning at 11 a.m. They’re FREE with a Muni Fast Pass or with regular fare of $2. For information, call (415) 226 – 1139 or visit www.epiphanydance.org.
Epiphany Productions is a performing arts company that erases the traditional boundaries between dance, theater and music, fusing different genres together in fresh, surprising, innovative ways. On the stage and in the street, Epiphany Productions tells stories through movement, sound and spoken word that inspire contemporary audiences to think in new ways about who we are and where we live.
Epiphany Productions was founded in 1997 by Bay Area choreographer and performer Kim Epifano. In the past 12 years, Epiphany Productions has produced 20 major works, including the award-winning productions “Deseos Desnudos,” “Sonic Luminescence,” “Calida Fornax,” “Einstein’s Daughters,” “Fears of Your Life” and the most recent, “Speaking Chinese,” an international collaboration. Epifano has been working, living and dancing in the streets of San Francisco and the Bay Area for over 20 years and was a key member of two of San Francisco’s most innovative and influential dance companies, Dance Brigade and Contraband.
Deborah Slater Dance Theater performs all original, visually gorgeous, acrobatic talking dance. The company is dedicated to the creation of full-length works exploring social issues through using humor, original movement, text and music.
“[DSDT is] remarkable to me as actors, fusing dance and drama without distracting affectations. … The acrobatic elements of the show … were blended so smoothly with the dance language as to be indistinguishable.” – Brooklyn Rail, 2009
In “Men Think They Are Better Than Grass, Study #4,” we are attempting to create an artistic response to the issue of global warming different from the direct, factual way in which it is generally presented. We are inspired by the ‘luminous, profound’ work of poet and deep ecologist and Pulitzer Prize winner WS Merwin. “We are asleep with compasses in our hands,” Merwin says.
Deep Waters Dance Theater (DWDT) is an Oakland-based company of dancer-performers who are committed to creating work that both celebrates and addresses complex issues of race, discrimination, culture, spirituality and the environment with the goal of eliciting dialogue, promoting unity and inspiring social change.
The San Francisco Marionettes provide synchronized swimming instruction through the generous support of the City and County of San Francisco who provide the use of San Francisco Municipal Pools for training and competition purposes. The Merionettes were established in 1956 and have provided training in synchronized swimming to the youth of San Francisco for over 50 years.
Wanda’s Picks Radio for Friday, Oct. 16
Tune in at http://www.wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org. Guests are Hamdiya Cooks, organizer for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and All of Us or None, has over 25 years of experience working on issues facing women in prison. She is a former prisoner, having served 20 years in the federal prison system. Dorsey E. Nunn, program director for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, is the co-founder of All of Us or None, a civil and human rights organization comprised of formerly incarcerated people, prisoners and their allies. He is also a formerly incarcerated person. They will speak about the Town Hall, Oct. 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at Metwest High School, 314 East 10th St., Oakland, (510) 444-0484 or (415) 255-7036, ext. 308.
Other guests include director Uscla Johnny Desarmes, who will speak about his latest project, “Life Outside the Pearl.” He will be joined by Louis and Camille, who will speak about Bellot Idovia Foundation and the fundraiser Monday, Oct. 19, 6-9 p.m., at the Community Room, 2919 Ninth St. at Ashby Avenue, Berkeley. Call (510) 677-7886. The money raised goes to provide solar water pumps to Haitian residents of the rural area, La Valle, La Tortue. Of the 9.6 million Haitians, only 4 percent have access to clean water. Every 15 seconds a child 5 years or younger dies from diarrheal diseases.
We also speak to Nicole Opper, director, and we hope Avery Klein-Cloud, subject, and Sharese Bullock, producer, of “Off and Running,” which is a part of the San Francisco Doc Fest at the Roxie Theatre screening Sunday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m., http://www.sfindie.com/.
We close with a conversation with artists Carla Oden and Patricia A. Montgomery. Their work is in the annual Dia de los Muertos at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St., between Eighth and Ninth streets, San Francisco. Admission is free. The opening reception for “Altars for the Spirits, Offerings for the Living” is at 6 to 10 p.m. tonight, Friday, Oct. 16. The exhibit continues through Nov. 7. Visit http://www.somarts.org.
Wanda’s Picks Special Broadcast featuring King Sunny Adé
Friday, Oct. 16, at http://www.wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org, we will feature King Sunny Adé, musical ambassador, who is known for a musical style he made popular, “JuJu.” Born into a Nigerian royal family, the artist and entrepreneur told me about how he began his musical career, why he took the name “Sunny” and the work he has done as a member of the cultural arts ministry in Nigeria.
He was on a tour with his latest album, “Seven Degrees North,” when I decided to celebrate my birthday at his concert. It was also a day of freedom and jubilation – Juneteenth, a day that honors the emancipation of Black people in America. Adé’s father was a church organist, while his mother was a trader. Adé left grammar school in Ondo under the pretense of going to the University of Lagos. There in Lagos his mercurial musical career started (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Sunny_Ad%C3%A9).
As he spoke to me via phone in a conversation, which was in two parts, as we got disconnected, I asked him about the legacy of slavery and how his family addressed the issue, how the Nigerian government addressed this issue. I recall his answer was that the “slavery” was complicated and most Africans were silent because if they were royal, then perhaps they participated and benefited from the trafficking. Also, what did African descendants want from African nations they left behind: money, land, other resources … an apology?
The enlightening conversation is one I hope to have with others on both sides of the question: victims and perpetrators. Similar to the Japanese interred in America during World War II receiving reparations, the Africans in the Diaspora spread out because of the Transatlantic Slave Trade need justice on all sides of the TRIANGLE, so that perhaps the breath of our ancestors, whom we name and honor each year at the Maafa Ritual, who rise up each fall during what is called “hurricane season,” might finally find the peace their spirits deserve. But that’s not happening as long as their children’s children’s children suffer.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.