Archive for Black History Month

PANTHER NEWSLETTER 2012 in review

Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, Health, Music, News, Newsletter, Poem, Poems, Publications, Reggae, Short Story, Television, Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

 PANTHER NEWSLETTER ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2012

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This newsletter had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this newsletter would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, News, Newsletter, Publications, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2012 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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THE HISTORY OF UGANDA

(Part One)

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Buganda: 19th century AD

Uganda, on the equator and surrounded by the great lakes of central Africa, is one of the last parts of the continent to be reached by outsiders. Arab traders in search of slaves and ivory arrive in the 1840s, soon followed by two British explorers. Speke was there in 1862. Stanley followed in 1875. The ruler visited by both Speke and Stanley is Mutesa, the king (or kabaka) of Buganda. His kingdom is one of four in this region which have become firmly established by the mid-nineteenth century. The others, lying to the west, are Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro.

The existence of these African kingdoms has a profound influence on the development of Uganda during the colonial period. But when the scramble for Africa begins, in the 1880s, this remote interior region is not immediately in the sights of any of the colonial predators.

It is seen at the time merely as a distant place lying beyond the territories of the sultan of Zanzibar, which are in dispute between Britain and Germany. When separate spheres of interest are agreed, in 1886, the area of modern Kenya falls to Britain. Beyond it, round the north shore of Lake Victoria, lies Buganda. Britain expects this to be little more than the far corner of its new colony. Events prove otherwise.

British East Africa Company: AD 1888-1895

As with the areas being colonized by Rhodes at this same period in southern Africa, the British government is reluctant to take active responsibility for the region of east Africa which is now its acknowledged sphere of interest. Instead it assigns to a commercial company the right to administer and develop the territory. The Imperial British East Africa Company is set up for the purpose in 1888, a year ahead of Rhodes’s British South Africa Company.

The region given into the company’s care stretches all the way from the east coast to the kingdom of Buganda, on the northwest shore of Lake Victoria

It is evident to all that the development of this region depends on the construction of a railway from the coast to Lake Victoria, but circumstances conspire to make this task far beyond the abilities of the East Africa Company. The running sore which saps their energy and their funds is Buganda.

Being in a sense beyond Lake Victoria, Germany is able to argue that this region (the most powerful kingdom within the territory of Uganda) is not covered by the territorial agreement with Britain. Moreover the irrepressible Karl Peters now forces the issue. In 1890 he arrives at Kampala and persuades the kabaka (the king of Buganda) to sign a treaty accepting a German protectorate over his kingdom.

A possibly dangerous confrontation between the imperial powers is averted when the British prime minister, Lord Salisbury, proposes a deal which Berlin, remarkably, accepts. Salisbury offers the tiny and apparently useless island of Heligoland (in British possession since 1814) in return for German recognition of British protectorates in Zanzibar, Uganda and Equatoria (the southern province of Sudan). But Germany derives her own benefit from the deal. Heligoland subsequently proves an invaluable naval base in two world wars.

Meanwhile the East Africa Company faces further problems in Buganda, where civil war breaks out between factions led by British Protestant missionaries and their French Catholic rivals.

In January 1892 there is heavy gunfire between and among the four hills which form Kampala. On the top of one hill is the palace of the kabaka. On another the French have completed a Catholic cathedral of wooden poles and reeds. On a third the Protestants are building their church. On the fourth is the fort established for the company by Frederick Lugard, who is the only combatant with the advantage of a Maxim machine gun.

Lugard prevails. But the loss of life and destruction of property in this unseemly European squabble makes it plain that the East Africa Company is incapable of fulfilling its duties.

In 1894 the British government declares a protectorate over Buganda. Two years later British control is extended to cover the western kingdoms of Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro – to form, together with Buganda, the Uganda Protectorate.

Meanwhile the much larger region of Kenya has been relatively calm, even if the East Africa Company has achieved little of value there. But in taking responsibility for Uganda, the British government needs to be sure of the new protectorate’s access to the sea. So in 1895 the company’s charter is revoked (with compensation of £250,000). Kenya becomes another new responsibility of the British government, as the East Africa Protectorate.

The Uganda Protectorate: AD 1896

Recent events in Uganda have made evident the difficulties likely to be faced by any colonial power. As a result the British government appoints in 1899 a seasoned administrator, Harry Johnston, as special commissioner to Uganda. His brief is to recommend the most effective form of administration.

The evident power of the local African kings convinces Johnston that control must be exercised through them. Buganda is by far the most significant of the kingdoms. The Johnston policy becomes effective with the Buganda Agreement of 1900.

Under the terms of this agreement the kabaka’s status is recognized by Britain, as is the authority of his council of chiefs. The chiefs’ collective approval of the British protectorate over the region is eased by Johnston’s acknowledgement of their freehold right to their lands (a concept alien to African tribal traditions, but nevertheless extremely welcome to the chiefs themselves).

Johnston subsequently makes similar agreements with the rulers of Toro (in 1900) and of Ankole (in 1901). With this much achieved, and a clear pattern set for the Uganda Protectorate, Johnston returns to Britain

Later commissioners develop Johnston’s solution for Uganda into a clear-cut distinction between it and neighbouring Kenya. White settlers are actively encouraged to move into Kenya’s highlands, a region to the immediate southeast of Uganda. But Johnston’s successor declares that Uganda is not suitable for European settlement.

Many disagree, and pressure builds to allow the establishment of European farms and plantations – until another commissioner, still in the years before World War I, makes it a point of principle that Uganda is to be an African state. The economics of the protectorate support this policy. Uganda grows prosperous as cotton, introduced by the British, is grown with great success by African peasant farmers.

But a federal system of semi-independent monarchies proves less appropriate in the years after World War II, when all African colonies are moving towards independence. Young educated Africans, the likely leaders of the future, are out of sympathy with feudal Uganda. And the dominant position of Buganda, by far the most powerful of the kingdoms, causes an imbalance in Ugandan politics – with much talk of possible secession by the kabaka and his council of chiefs.

By the early 1960s the leading Ugandan politician is Milton Obote, founder of the UPC (Uganda People’s Congress), a party drawing its support from the northern regions of the country. Its main political platform is opposition to the hegemony of the southern kingdom of Buganda.

Britain grants Uganda full internal self-government in March 1962. In the following month Obote is elected prime minister. It is he who negotiates the terms of the constitution under which Uganda becomes independent in October 1962.

Confronted by the problem of Buganda, Obote accepts a constitution which gives federal status and a degree of autonomy to four traditional kingdoms, of which Buganda is by far the most powerful. In the same spirit Obote approves the election in 1963 of the kabaka, Mutesa II, to the largely ceremonial role of president and head of state. It proves to be a short-lived collaboration.

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Read THE HISTORY OF UGANDA (part two) here…

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‘Til 2013 – Everyting Bless

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Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, News, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2012 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

 

STRANGER THAN FICTION

(The Boy)

© 2012 Beresford Callum

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For me, the Jamaican 500 dollar bill, with its artist impression of national heroin, Nanny, has a very special significance. It triggers memories of an untouched Jamaica. Untouched as in not the utopian dream imagined by tourists (i.e. exotic cuisine, endless sunshine punctuated by cool breezes, white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, limestone caverns and fertile alluvial plains) but forested valleys so deep their mists don’t clear until after 9 am. Where there are no direct rays of the sun until midday. Where days are cool, nights are bone chilling, the air is clean, no carbohydrates grow there, and the only human sustenance is wild boar, fish, and wild honey. Thus was the environment I found myself in the summer of 1991.

It was not my first time in the upper valleys of Portland’s Rio Grande and Back River. The History Department of the University of the West Indies had initiated the Maroon Archaeological Research Project (UMARP). In 1990, three classmates and I spent three days here, conducting a site reconnaissance survey. This time I was among an international body of students dropped by helicopter into Nanny Town or “Old Nanny Town” as it is referred to today, for a six week stay.

Like all battlefields where the disenfranchised have triumphed over superior forces; Little Bighorn or Greasy Grass for the American Indians of Montana, Thermopylae for the Greek and Palmares (Angola Janga) for the Brazilian maroons, “Old Nanny Town” is considered hallowed ground and the most sacred place on earth to Jamaica’s Windward Maroons. The original home to one of the most notorious band of runaway slave freedom fighters, the village always took the name of their heroin leader, Nanny.

The temporary British Barrack at Old Nanny Town was situated on three terraces. Mr. Leopold Shelton and the three West brothers – Grassy, Clinton and Raldi ; our maroon guides, built our camp on the two lower terraces, roughly 20 meters from the assumed boundaries ruins and main upper terrace.[1] Three tents enclosed a central cooking and a general multi-purpose area. Two tents were located on the lower horizontal terrace acting as informal barriers between the site and the 50 meters of steep, thick scrub land before the Back River Grande. Littered with sharp protruding rocks and precipitous falls, locals say, “Woe is unto the stranger who tries to descend these slopes after nightfall.”

There was a series of unexplained phenomena that field season. The following are my accounts of the two by which I was directly impacted.

Off the beaten path to the south west of our camp was a creek housing a seasonal stream known to wild boar hunters as Nanny Falls. One morning before breakfast, a female friend and I decided to do our morning hygiene at “Nanny Falls” stream. As we began ascending the creek, we heard a series of strange noises and a heavy rustling in the thick dried foliage all around us. We looked enquiringly in all directions. Nothing! Assuming it was a hunting dog; we shrugged our shoulders and moved on. The sound escalating and foliage moving more vigorously, we were interrupted two times more, in quick succession. After the second time hearing what sounded like the flapping of a dog’s ears as he is shaking his head, we not only scanned our surroundings, we threw a few rocks in the general area and then different directions hoping to hear or see some immediate response. Nothing!! The third time was so loud; it made the hairs at the back of my head uncurl. It was as though the eyes of a predator were trained on me. The fear of God was driven into us. We stopped, scanned our surroundings, stared at each other and without saying a word, simultaneously turned and quick stepped it back to the camp.  Back at camp not a word was uttered to our peers and for the weeks that followed neither of us looked in that direction.

As if my Nanny Falls experience were not enough, about two weeks later, I was chased out of my tent. That Friday night after the usual campfire joke session, group members returned to their respective tents. With members of our tent being of the more worldly persuasion, we spent another hour living it up. Some people were smoking and everyone had been taking more than a few shots of Appleton Estate’s finest.

There is something rejuvenating about the fresh clean air when you are 2,256 meters (7,402 ft.) above sea level and surrounded by miles and miles of untouched rain forest. I rarely sleep straight though the night. Lying on my back, I often just keep my eyes closed until I return to deep slumber. This particular night was no different. Awake in the middle of the night, within my sleeping bag, I curled into a semi-fetal position to harness my body heat. Eyes closed I breathed deeply, taking full advantage of the mountain air.

Suddenly, I was overcome by the smell of a heavy smoke. For those familiar with wood fires you know this can be a very pleasant smell. I assumed the wind direction had changed and the logs on the campfire were still going. I grew suspicious when the smell of pure smoke changed to a musky smell of sweat, something similar to an odor carried by char-coaler who had spent days in the hills disassembling a burnt kiln.

I opened my eyes. Standing at the entrance to our tent was “The Boy.” From my position he could have been roughly 5’ 6” tall, burry soot black hair, with wide shoulders and a muscular wedge like torso. Spear in hand, shirtless, and only wearing torn pants from waist to just below the knee, he was looking directly at me. Most noticeable were his huge bulbous eyes that stared at me menacingly. Against his obsidian skin they were most pronounced, a smoky white with enlarged capillaries around the pupils, somewhat similar to varicose veins.

He didn’t move or utter a word, but I was sure he had come to get me. In one swift adrenalin filled motion, I flew out of my bag and stormed through my ghost, unconsciously downhill. It could have been only through the mercy of God or Granny Nanny herself who could have assisted in my navigating the treacherous path toward the river. I was very fortunate. I have heard stories where Red Coats and militia men having had the same experience, ran aimlessly throwing themselves over the precipice which littered the this mountain landscape. Skin torn, flesh bruised and torn from my right big toe in my flight. I was taken to the University medical center where strips of skin were surgically removed and the wound cleaned and bandaged. Up until this day; more than two decades after, I walk with a slight limp.

I was sure of what I had seen, yet when others inquired as to the source of my sudden uproar and the subsequent accident, I said it was a rat or something like one. When things calmed down our four Maroon guides and the five other individuals with whom I shared the same tent quickly covered their heads with their blankets and never uttered a word to refute my explanation. I knew they didn’t believe a word. I have no doubt that my tent mates, all the Jamaican students, were thinking duppy but scared stiff themselves, they dared not say it.

The next day, my peers schemed and plotted, quickly applying their academic and creative skills using my unfortunate situation to modify the popular 1974 hit Duppy Gunman by Jamaican singer Ernie Smith. Duppy Gunman tells the tale of a romantic liaison that went bad. It opens:

I an I man forward

Pon a different scene

I an I man collie weed

I an I man queen

Everything was irie

Getting in the groove

We jus’ a come dung to movement

When someone sey don’t move

It mus be a duppy or a gunman

I man no fin’ out yet

(“Quarrie [2]was a bway to I man las’ night, him coulden falla me”)

 

I have forgotten all the words but, keeping the tune the modified chorus like the original was especially catchy.

Callum no fin’ out yet

“Quarrie was a bway to Callum that’ night, him coulden falla him”

A day or two later, I described what happened to the maroon guides and a few friends. The guides were not surprised; they had suspected what had happened all along. They then surprised me by telling me about the experience of a young college student (who by coincidence happened to be the father of my University roommate) who decide to take a casual hike to the site in the mid-1960s. The word is he was lost, supposedly led away by ghosts for a week.

Fuelled by the aforementioned song, I became the camp’s source of laughs for the rest of that field season and the History Department’s most popular joke the following fall semester.

AFTERMATH

Fascinated by my experiences at Nanny Town, I developed a special interest in Maroon heritage and culture. As fate would have it, I was later hired by The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) as an Archaeologist. Somewhat similar to America’s National Park Service and England’s English Heritage, the JNHT houses artifacts and is responsible for maintaining Jamaica’s historic sites. Being intimately involved with the material culture over the next three years further stimulated my interest. By the time I began graduate school, I was reading any material associated with Jamaica’s Maroons.

In this relatively short paper, along with his site description, Alan Tuelon gave an account of the experiences of a few other unsuspecting and skeptic adventurers dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, when British Red Coats abandoned the site. So powerful is the folklore that shrouds Old Nanny Town, that since the end of the nineteenth century, only maroon boar hunters have dared to visit the site. Among the many phenomena to which hunters have attested are hearing strange unexplainable noises, clearly not associated with the physical environment of the forest. There are stories of huts spontaneously combusting after being visited by an unclassified speckled, red tailed bird. Others tell of a vocal monster – the whooping boy. Even more outrageous are the stories of a legless dog, floating across waterfalls and through the mist of dark ravines. Hunters say, “that when either of the aforementioned gives tongue the hunter regardful of safety had better make tracks for his home.”

I was dumbstruck! Turns out what I had experienced in Old Nanny Town were just two more events to be added to a long line of unexplainable phenomena to have occurred at the Nanny Town site. Among the more noteworthy are: In 1898 two white men attempted to journey to the site alone, losing their bearings. Fortunately for them they were found close to dying from foot sores and starvation. In the 1930s nine boys from Jamaica College (a high school located in Kingston), somehow after setting eyes upon the site, were lost in the rain forest for two weeks, later found by a Mr. Sebert Mackenzie, a local farmer working in his fields. The local newspaper (Daily Gleaner), contemporaneous with that year, carried some interesting accounts of the efforts of search parties to locate the boys. The most tragic incident associated with the site is probably that of 1965 when a party of geologists working in the area supposedly came too close to the site. They too were lost, one of them dying as a result.

My college roommate swears that until this day his father refuses to talk about his experience. To tell the truth, if it had not been for Alan Tuelons’ paper, I wouldn’t be writing this story either.

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[1] In 1991 Mr. Leopold Shelton was the only surviving guide of Alan Tuelon’s 1967 team.

[2] The Quarrie mentioned in the original song was Jamaica’s, Donald Quarrie one of the world top sprinters in the 1970s.

[3] Alan Tuelon, “Nanny – Maroon Chieftainess,” Caribbean Quarterly 19, no. 4 (1973): 20-27.

See Also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2uRadowN0w.

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*All rights reserved.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Beresford Callum.*

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Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, News, Newsletter, Publications, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2012 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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JUST SAY YES

© 2012 Ava Ming

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“Nothing in this world obstructs you, unless you believe it to be so,”

Anon.

I am forever amazed at people who say no when they could just as easily say yes. Fretful men and women cut themselves off from life’s fortuity, mistakenly convinced that declining is their safest option. But in reality life is for living, not for sitting on the sidelines watching the courageous few take chances, so why not leave the people-gazing to the paparazzi and take action?

Not wishing to come all over ecumenical, but wasn’t it Jesus who went on about ‘life more abundantly?’ Personally I think he was on to something. In heaven, or wherever you believe you’ll end up, there’ll be no lovely shoes to collect. Okay so you can only wear one pair at a time, but just imagine shiny stilettos lined up waiting for your soft, newly pedicured feet? And, I guarantee there’ll definitely be no money to spend simply for the sake of it. No credit cards to max out, no challenges to overcome, mental, physical or emotional, no mountains to climb. There’ll be no new worlds to conquer, no children to raise, no marriages to make. In fact no life to live, just a harp to strum and a pasture to laze in till you’re sick of looking at grass! Is that really what you’re waiting for?

I have an ironic sense that the people who casually follow wherever the wind blows would amaze us if they only said yes, so why treat life as if it were a rehearsal, promising to do more next time around?

Consider; Rum and raisin ice-cream versus dull, rice cakes? Sexy salsa dancing or sitting at home watching re-runs of CSI? Belting out disco karaoke, feeling like a fool but having a great time, versus watching American Idol with a wistful sigh of ‘if only that was me following my dreams?’

Your heartbeat is fast enough to keep you motivated but slow enough to keep you alive. Your senses absorb and create rich, wonderful, kaleidoscopic fantasies every minute of the day. Imagine if you never acted on them?

Years ago I had the pleasure of being a backing singer for late, great, Motown soul man, Edwin Starr. One of the first things he said to his audience was; “y’all get up and dance, don’t worry about what your friends say ’cos they’re gonna talk about you anyway.” He was right of course. People will think whatever they’re going to think, so why worry about them? Edwin loved life. He squeezed more into his sixty-one years than most people do in thirty-five. He treated each day as a new adventure and this rubbed off onto the people around him. He’d tease me for being tired at eleven pm as we were about to go on stage whilst he was wide awake, excited and ready to entertain. Edwin’s talent and hard work brought him fame and riches borne from his determination to get the most out of life.

You have a fantastic brain and great ideas. Every day your plans and dreams, hopes and fears surface in your quiet slumber or your private daydreams willing you to take a chance and do something outside of your comfort zone.

You can fall in love and enjoy romance after romance after romance, after more romance…if you’re lucky. You can get your heart broken and don’t forget the hearts that you’ll break too. You can try anything and fail, you can try anything and succeed, but the main thing is that you try.

If you get knocked back, take a minute to re-group and carry on. In the long-run will it really matter? You can create fabulous true stories to tell your grandchildren and make them want to be you. You can write a book, enjoy a symphony, design a new swimsuit, dye your hair! You can eat, sleep, make love, cry, laugh, rant, rave and dance every night of the week.

As a warm, sentient, fantastic human being, the life that you were born into is actually un-limited, don’t let your thoughts tell you otherwise. You can wink at strangers, pick grapes in Greece, learn ballet in Bologna, jump-up in Trinidad. You can make new friends from the tribes of Timbuctoo. You can surf the oceans, fly high in the sky or hurtle below the sea on a train through the channel tunnel. Whatever you want to do, it’s all there, just choose!

If you’re thinking well that all sounds great, but how? Sorry but you’ll have to conjure up your own magic method. Walk the road less travelled where there’s loads of space to explore your thoughts.

The next time you find yourself automatically saying no to something new, think about the marvellous, glorious exciting new everything you’ll open yourself up to if you just say yes!

Go for it!

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You can read more of Ava’s inspiring articles on Hubpages; here…

Check out her novel: ONCE UPON A LIE; here…

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*All rights reserved.  No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Ava Ming.*

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Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, News, Newsletter, Publications, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

A Tribute to our ancestors who built New York…

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NEW YORK’S SLAVE BURIAL SITE

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The Symbol above is one of many tribal emblems that represent West African Wisdom: Adinkra Symbols & Meanings: SANKOFA

“Return and get it”

A symbol of importance of learning from the past

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A burial ground for African slaves, which had been forgotten for almost two centuries, was opened to the public in New York, October 5th 2007. Those who attended a dedication ceremony for the monument site were New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Maya Angelou. The late 17th Century burial site was gradually built over as New York expanded, but was rediscovered during an excavation in 1991. Some 400 remains, many of children, were found during excavations. Half of the remains found at the burial site were of children under the age of 12. The entire project cost more than $50 million (£24 million) to complete. The burial site in Manhattan was rediscovered during excavations for a federal building.

FORGOTTEN SACRIFICE

A 25 feet (7.6 metre) granite monument marks the site. It was designed by Rodney Leon and is made out of stone from South Africa and from North America to symbolise the two worlds coming together. The entry to the monument is called ‘The Door of Return’ – a nod to the name given to the departure points from which slaves were shipped from Africa to North America. The tragedy is that for so many years, in fact centuries, people passing by this site did not know about the sacrifices the slaves had made. This monument is an opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past.

ENSLAVED AFRICANS HELPED CREATE THE CITY OF

NEW YORK

They worked in the docks and as labourers building the fortification known as Wall Street, which protected the city against attack from Native Americans. The excavations had revealed one of the most uncomfortable and tragic truths in New York City’s history. For two centuries, slavery was widespread in New York.

THE AFRICAN FOUNDATIONS OF NEW YORK

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The remains of 20,000 Africans are said to be buried under New York

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The remains of 20,000 African men, women and children have lain beneath the busy streets of New York for 300 years, waiting to tell their stories on the extent of slavery in the city. In March 1992, leading African-American archaeologist Michael Blakey arrived at the burial ground in downtown Manhattan. He had read about these people documented as chattel and was now going to learn about these Africans in New York as human beings.

A haunting sight greeted him. Being winter, work was taking place under a translucent plastic tent. He had never seen an excavation like that before as there were mini excavators working and kerosene heaters were going. By the time he got there, about a dozen burials were in the process of being exposed. He could see very clearly by their positions, that they were meant to be put at peace when they were buried. Many had their arms crossed. One female skeleton had tiny bones by her side, suggesting a woman cradling a new born child.

SIGN OF SLAVERY

They had devastating secrets to share, information that would reveal the extent of slavery in New York. A skull and thorax of an individual were found with filed or culturally modified teeth – and that stunned everyone because that was very rare. There are only about nine skeletons in the whole of the Americas that have been discovered with filed teeth. In this African burial ground they found at least 27 individuals with filed teeth. This suggested these people had come to New York directly from Africa before importation was banned in 1808 and American slaveholders started “breeding” slaves on the plantations in the South. These kinds of irreversible identifiers put people at risk who might have wanted to escape. Runaway adverts in newspapers seeking to re-capture the many escaped enslaved Africans often mentioned dental modification, so no one would choose to have that kind of marker.

WORKED TO DEATH

These enslaved Africans helped create the city of New York. They worked as stevedores in the docks and as labourers building the fortification known as Wall Street, which protected the city against attack from Native Americans. Evidence from the burial site revealed, for the first time, the enormous human cost of such work. Half of the remains were of children under the age of 12. Women were usually dead by 40. It seems that it was cost effective for slave traders to work people to death and then simply to replace them, so they sought to get Africans who were as young as possible, but ready to work.

FROM ROYALTY TO SLAVERY?

The woman designated “Burial 340” was a very intriguing person. She was in her 40s – and for the burial ground population that made her kind of old. Around her waist the woman wore a belt of over 100 beads and cowrie shells. In some parts of Africa in the 1700s, it’s illegal for people who are not members of royal families to own even one of these beads – and she had over 100 buried with her. Such treasures are known to belong to Akan-speaking people. The questions are:

Had this woman been born into royalty in Ghana and died a slave in New York City?

And who chose to bury her with the waist belt of beads?

They are very valuable items. It implies that whoever buried her could have chosen to sell those items to feed themselves – but they made the choice to bury them with her. Perhaps it was a tradition, a rite, or an act of defiance against those who had enslaved a woman of noble birth.

The skeletons of 18th Century slaves have spoken to those living free today to remind us that New York – one of the world’s great immigrant cities – destroyed as well as created destinies.

So Kings and Queens of Jah Kingdom. Whenever you get the chance to visit New York City, make a date in your calendar to check out New York’s AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND and pay tribute to our ancestors.

‘TIL JUNE 2012 – EVERYTING – BLESS

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FURTHER READING AND VIEWING

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  • Read more about NEW YORK’S SLAVE BURIAL SITE; here…
  • AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND DOCUMENTARY; here…
  • AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND – A BRIEF HISTORY; here…
  • AFRICA BURIAL GROUND MONUMENT NEW YORK 23 JUNE 2009; here…
  • AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND TOUR SEPTEMBER 22 2009; here…
  • NYC AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND; here…

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Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Fiction, News, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

 

DIALOGUE WITH A DUPPY!!

© 2012 Beresford Callum

Ghosts or spirits are more popularly known in West Indian folklore as duppies. The belief in duppies is anchored in the theory of survival after death. Or, that there is no death. Those who pass just move from one form of existence to another. Most importantly, in the eyes of the believers, duppies are all powerful shadows of dead people. They are hugely feared. Demonstrative of their power are the beliefs that duppies regularly harm people. A duppy’s breath can make you sick, its touch can cause seizures. Duppy-induced injuries are often cited as an excuse to miss work. Duppy boxing (being slapped in the face by a duppy) is commonplace amongst all ages, with many people developing palsies and disfigurements after being attacked in this way.

Jamaicans, especially those of the rural proletariat and peasantry, are highly suspicious and fearful of these evil spirits, and are generally indirectly or directly armed via folklore with what can be considered to be a toolkit or bag of tricks to protect themselves not just from the arbitrary duppy encounter, but also from obeah, where a spirit is conjured up using a variety of lures to do evil.

Duppy protection rituals vary from parish to parish. Typical would be the use of nails. In St. Thomas, nails are used to pin the deceased (i.e. driven as close as possible through clothing into the coffin itself). In Cockpit Country, the nails are driven through the soles of the deceased feet (i.e. into the phalanges). Throughout the island, the blood of white chickens is often spread inside homes to ward off duppies. It not unusual to hear that individuals have a clove of garlic or nutmeg concealed somewhere on their person as a preventative measure. Both are supposed to keep the spirits away.

I personally have had three memorable duppy encounters! The circumstances which validate my experiences differ considerably but are all indirectly connected to ignorance. My formative years were spent in Birmingham (UK), I was not only unprepared, never giving an ear to the local old wives tales, I was always somewhat of a sceptic. The following is a true and accurate account of my second encounter with the paranormal.

In the summer of 1992, I began working as an archaeologist with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. By all accounts, this was a great job. The Trust owned historic buildings and properties island-wide. These properties’ buildings had to be serviced, hence; I got to travel throughout the country, gaining an intimate knowledge of the island’s geography, nuances in cuisine, and communication routes. I considered myself very fortunate to have landed the position. It was around this same period that the Trust began giving a facelift to their Seville Plantation House, polishing exhibits and organizing decent presentations to visitors.

 Photographs of Seville Plantation House. A front view showing its formal entrance (above) taken from a northerly direction. The picture below is taken from the rear in a southwesterly direction to illustrate the patio (Veranda’s) view of the sea. 

Despite my constant debate expressing how much of a waste of time it would be going back to Port Royal (60 miles from Seville Plantation) that night only to return first thing in the morning, my crew members insisted on going home. As dusk drew, they quickly cleaned up and embarked on what I considered a tiresome trek back to Kingston. I would stay. I had travelled from Kingston and was prepared to stay the night. I was perfectly comfortable with my surroundings. I had slept in the house many times before, accompanied by students of Syracuse University during their field school. I didn’t see why things were any different this time around. Furthermore, I wouldn’t be alone. Mr Percy was there too.

Mr Percy was another good reason to stay. Impressed with how much I had travelled throughout the island, he had taken a liking to me and we had become close friends. I guess I reminded him of himself, 40 years earlier. He had left home as a young man in the early 1960s and travelled throughout Jamaica working at various odd jobs until finally being employed by the Trust as a general laborer. After many years, he was promoted to caretaker of the Seville Plantation House. He occupied two rooms to the rear, attached to but adjacent to the main building. Before turning in for bed, Mr Percy and I had dinner and joked around. Mr Percy had worked with many notable archaeologists. He reminisced about their peculiarities. I listened in awe.

I slept in one of the front rooms with the window open so I could enjoy the famous sea breeze for which the northern coast of Jamaica is famous. I woke up around midnight and couldn’t believe my eyes. Standing naked over me, was a beautiful black woman. Quickly scanning her person, I asked, “Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here naked?” Starring at me, she gave no replies.

Until this day I have no idea what made me say what came from my mouth next. I said to her, “Well it’s too late for you to go home now!! Put your clothes on, you can sleep beside me tonight, but tomorrow morning as early as possible, run on home to your mother as now she must be very worried.” Turning my head in the opposite direction, I adjusted my position from the center of the bed to the far left. I didn’t see her put her clothes on. I felt the mattress shift from the added weight as she lay on the bed. Without looking I gave her the sheet to cover herself. I remember thinking that I couldn’t understand why this young lady wouldn’t speak to me.  As I fell back to sleep, saying to myself whatever the problem was we could clear it up in the morning.

The next morning I was awakened by the housekeeper, Ms. Dottie. Looking somewhat puzzled she said “Mr. Callum!!! A Big! Big!!! Man like you don’t know how to sleep on a bed? Why have you left most of the bed empty? ”

Somewhat perturbed by her jumping to conclusions “Yes!!” Then beginning to offer an explanation regarding my positioning, I asked, “Has that young lady left? There was a young lady here last night.”

Her eyes popped open, and with a sudden burst of excitement and urgency, Ms Dottie said, “STOP!!!!!!” Running to the rear she shouted, “ Mr Percy come listen to this!” Running to the veranda in the front, she shouted to the grounds workers (all of whom were locals), “Stop working come listen to this!”

I immediately knew something was wrong. As I relayed my story, my audience laughed so hard they could hardly stand. To date, other than that she is of African descent, very little is known about the young lady’s origins. Always naked, there is nothing diagnostic to establish her provenance. Both the Spanish and English had slaves and the property through which she traverses has had a long history of African habitation, as slaves and free people. Seville Plantation was established on the site of Columbus’ initial landing in 1494. Between 1509 and the establishment of Spanish Town in1534, as a hacienda, the house and its then formal gardens overlooked Jamaica’s first capital, New Seville.  With the shift of the capital, the area’s popularity declined and the old capital fell into disrepair. Later with the capture of Jamaica by Cromwell’s forces, New Seville was abandoned. To establish their presence and prevent recapture by the Spanish, all lands on the northern side of the island were divided in varying quantities and allotted to English officers and soldiers. It was through this allotment that the ruined city of New Seville and surrounding lands became the property of English officer Captain Hemming. It remained in the Hemming family as a sugar plantation until well into the second half of the twentieth century when the property was deeded by the surviving heirs as a gift to the Jamaican people. The current house was built in 1745 by Hemming’s grandson.

Now it all made sense. Turns out this young lady had been haunting the property for decades and caused many young men working for the Trust to run out of their beds. Her last “victim” was the department’s graphic artist who jumped through a closed window, sustaining numerous cuts and bruises. The property was also used as a shortcut from the town of St. Anne’s Bay to a few of the surrounding hamlets. Fearful of being chased or followed home, very few young men will chance walking the property roads and footpaths alone at night. My crew, all of whom had been working for the Trust for years prior to me, were well acquainted with the rumors and history of her lying in wait for a lone, unsuspecting male. In fact, it had been less than three years since she walked in on the company’s graphic artist.

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READ BERESFORD’S OTHER FEATURED STORY

STRANGER THAN FICTION; here…

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*All rights reserved.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Beresford Callum.*

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The Culture Corner

Posted in Articles, Arts, Black British Literature, Black History, Books, british dialect, Community, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, History, Literature, Music, News, Newsletter, Publications, Short Story, Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2009 by https://panthernewsletter1.wordpress.com

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“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots.”

 Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887 – 1940)

Every year in October we celebrate BLACK HISTORY MONTH. Black history is with us every second, minute, hour, week, month and year. PANTHER NEWSLETTER’S Culture Corner will attempt to enlighten you with what they never told you in your history class. Our story will be told right here – So enjoy the journey of clarification.

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Not widely known but true…

 

MUSIC

Ludwig Van Beethoven the classical composer and musician was black.

Joseph Haydn another well-known composer and musician who wrote the music for the former Austrian National Anthem was also black.

HISTORICAL FACTS

Before Abraham’s birth, the sacred river of India, the River Ganges was named after an Ethiopian King  General Ganges who conquered Asia as far as this river and established an empire.

The most ancient lineage in the world is that of the Ethiopian Royal Family.  It is said to be older than that of Queen Elizabeth II by 6160 years.  The former Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I, traced his ancestry to King Solomon, the Queen of ShebaMenelik I and beyond to Cush 6280 B.C.  (Song of Solomon I verse 6).

A black man Matthew Henson was in the party of 6 who were the first to reach Antarctica in 1909.

There were Africans in Britain before the English!

MEDICINE

Imhotep, a black man was the real father of medicine.  Hippocrates, the so-called father of medicine lived 2000 years after Imhotep.  Greece and Rome obtained their knowledge of medicine from him.

Doctor Daniel Hale Williams, an African/American who died in 1931 was the first surgeon to perform a successful operation on the human heart.

FAITH AND RELIGION

There were three African Popes of Rome.  Victor I (189 – 199 A.D.) Melchiades (311 – 312 A.D.) ; and St Gelasius (496 A.D.).  It was Melchiades who led Christianity to final triumph against the Roman Empire.

The celestial saint of Germany is St Maurice, an African.  While in command of a Roman legion in what is now Switzerland, in 287 A.D, he refused to attack the Christians when ordered to by the emperor Maximian Herculius, for which he was killed.  His picture is in many German cathedrals and museums, sometimes with the German national emblem, the eagle on his head.

Akhenaten

The beginning of religion was in Africa.  Pharaoh Akhenaten gave the world the belief  in one god.  In Egypt, he insisted that his people worship Aton, the Sun God only.  His beliefs were strong enough to completely change art and literature in Egypt.

WRITING

Alexandre Dumas (1802 – 1870)

Alexandre Dumas was one of the most famous French writers of the 19th century.  He is best known for his historical adventure novels like The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Man in the Iron Mask.  Dumas’ grandfather was a French nobleman who had settled in Santo Domingo, now part of Haiti.  His paternal grandmother, Marie Louise Cessette Dumas was African/Caribbean, who had been a slave in the French colony.

Alexander Pushkin (1799 – 1837)

Alexander Pushkin has become one of Russia’s national heroes.  Born in Moscow of African blood, portraits often tried to disguise his features.  His political verse got him exiled from Moscow in 1820 and his atheist opinions also hampered him.  Among his great works are the poem The Bronze Horseman (1833) and also the short story The Queen of Spades (1834).

FREEDOM FIGHTERS

Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797)

Olaudah Equiano was born in what is now Nigeria.  Kidnapped and sold into slavery in childhood, he was taken to the New World as a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy and later to a Quaker merchant.  He eventually earned the price of his own freedom by careful trading and saving.  As a seaman, he travelled the world.  When he arrived in London, he became involved in the movement to abolish the slave trade, an involvement which led to him writing and publishing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African (1789), a strong abolitionist autobiography.  The book became a bestseller and as well as furthering the anti-slavery cause, made Equiano a wealthy man.  Equiano’s passion, committment and energy to the anti-slavery cause, informed and inspired William Wilberforce, a religious English MP and social reformer to convince the British Empire to bring about the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895)

Frederick Douglass was best known for delivering stirring speeches about his life as a slave and he became a leading spokesman for the abolition of slavery and for racial equality.  The son of a slave woman and an unknown white man, “Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey” was born February 1818 on Maryland’s eastern shore.  He spent his early years with his grandparents and with an aunt, only seeing his mother five times before her death when he was seven.  During this time Douglass was exposed to the degradations of slavery, witnessing firsthand brutal whippings and spending much time cold and hungry.  When he was eight he was sent to Baltimore to live with a ship carpenter named Hugh Auld.  There he learned to read and first heard the words abolition and abolitionists.  Living in Baltimore laid the foundations and opened the gateway to his prosperity.

Douglass won world fame when his autobiography was published in 1845.  Two years later he began publishing an antislavery paper called North Star.  He served as an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for black people.  Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice.

Here ends your history lesson for this month.

I’d like to take this opportunity to big up my daughter Shereen for encouraging me to make this newsletter possible; bless up Administrator Denise Dunn for posting all things cultural on the Panther Newsletter Facebook page and last but by no means least, Candice Smith for taking time out to offer her technical skills.  “Bless you ladies.”

 

Log on for more Culture Corner next month and remember…

“The greatest thing is to know, what you don’t know.”

Irene Ann Samuda-Smith

So said my mom: Irene Ann Samuda-Smith

Sunrise: December 10 1929 – Sunset: June 13 1987

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‘Til next month:  Everyting Bless.

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