Saturday, 1 October 2016

77th birthday of George Robert Carruthers

(Born 1 October 1939, Cincinnati, Ohio, US)
Award-winning physicist, space scientist, inventor in the space shuttle flight mission and elsewhere in aeronautics and astronomical research, involvement in expansive outreach programme for youth science education especially around Washington DC
(Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra, Interstellar Low Ways [personnel: Sun Ra, piano, gong; Phil Cohran, cornet; George Hudson, trumpet; Nate Pryor, trombone; James Spaulding, flute;  Marshall Allen, alto saxophone, flute, bells; John Gilmore, tenor saxophone, percussion; Ronnie Boykins, bass, percussion, space gong; Jon Hardy, drums, percussion, gong; William Cochran, drums; Pat Patrick, percussion; Hobart Dotson, percussion; ensemble vocals; recorded: Saturn/Evidence/RCA Studios Chicago, US, 1959-1960, released 1966; producer: Alton Abraham])  
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

56th birthday of Esiaba Irobi

(Born 1 October 1960, Aba, Biafra)
Distinguished dramatist (“Nwokedi”, “Hangmen also Die”,  Cemetery Road”)poet, essayist, academic


Thursday, 29 September 2016

1st anniversary of landmark letter from eminent historian Hilary Beckles, chair of Caricom Reparations Committee and vice-chancellor (president) of the University of West Indies, to David Cameron, former British prime minister, on the subject of reparations from Britain for centuries of the latter’s enslavement of African peoples in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Americas (Jamaica Observer, Kingston, Monday 28 September 2015)

(Hilary Beckles)
Dear Honourable Prime Minister
(David Cameron)
I join with the resolute and resilient people of Jamaica and their Government in extending to you a warm and glorious welcome to our homeland. We recognise you, Prime Minister, given your family’s long and significant relationship to our country, as an internal stakeholder with historically assigned credentials.

To us, therefore, you are more than a prime minister. You are a grandson of the Jamaican soil who has been privileged and enriched by your forebears’ sins of the enslavement of our ancestors.
As we prepare for you a red carpet befitting your formal status we invite you to cast your eyes upon the colours of our national flag that symbolise the history we share. You are, Sir, a prized product of this land and the bonanza benefits reaped by your family and inherited by you continue to bind us together like birds of a feather.

Be assured, Prime Minister, that you will find no more generous people on our planet Earth than those who will greet you with golden hearts and civilised consciousness. I urge that you embrace the sincerity of our salutations. It is born and bred in the cauldron of our enslavement by your family and society.

Consider it a golden gift of friendship and not simply the empty expression of protocols relevant to the events you will attend. It is furthermore, an overture to an expectation of a dialogue of reparatory justice that can redefine for us a new intimacy for this long 21st century on which we are embarked.

Your advisors would have informed you that beyond the boundary of the affairs of State, civil society welcomes you without reservation, though with a qualification that bears the burden of our tortured past within the historically textured present. I speak of outstanding and unresolved matters that are relevant to our sense of mutual respect as equal nations dedicated to the cause of furthering humanity's finest imagined destiny.

I speak, Sir, of the legacies of slavery that continue to derail, undermine and haunt our best efforts at sustainable economic development and the psychological and cultural rehabilitation of our people from the ravishes of the crimes against humanity committed by your British State and its citizens in the form of chattel slavery and native genocide.

In this regard, I urge you to be aware that the issue of reparatory justice for these crimes is now before our respective nations, and the wider world. It is not an issue that can be further ignored, remain under the rug, or placed on back burners, as your minister who recently visited us so aptly described your agenda for Jamaica and the Caribbean.

It will generate the greatest global political movement of our time unless respected and resolved by you, the leader of the State that extracted more wealth from our enslavement than any other.

The Jamaican economy, more than any other, at a critical moment in your nation's economic development, fuelled its sustainable growth. Britain, as a result, became great and Jamaica has remained the poorer. Jamaica now calls upon Britain to reciprocate, not in the context of crime and compulsion, but in friendly, mutually respected dialogue.

It is an offer of opportunity written not in the blood of our enslaved ancestors, but in the imagination of their offspring and progeny who have survived the holocaust and are looking to the future for salvation.

As a man, a humane man, with responsibility for the humanity of your nation, we call upon you to rise to this moment as you realise and internalise that without the wealth made by your enslaving ancestors, right here in our Jamaica, we would not be enchained together, today, called upon to treat with this shared past.

Successive governments in this land, a place still groaning under the weight of this injustice, have done well during the 53 years of sovereignty, but the burden of the inherited mess from slavery and colonialism has overwhelmed many of our best efforts. You owe it to us as you return here to communicate a commitment to reparatory justice that will enable your nation to play its part in cleaning up this monumental mess of Empire.

We ask not for handouts or any such acts of indecent submission. We merely ask that you acknowledge responsibility for your share of this situation and move to contribute in a joint programme of rehabilitation and renewal. The continuing suffering of our people, Sir, is as much your nation's duty to alleviate as it is ours to resolve in steadfast acts of self-responsibility.

In the four corners of Kingston there are already whispers that your strategy will be to seek a way to weaken Jamaica's commitment to Caribbean reparations in a singular act of gift-granting designed to divide and rule and to subvert the regional discourse and movement.

You, Sir, are a Briton, not a Greek, and we have no reason therefore to fear what you bear. But we do ask that you recall the Caribbean region was once your nation’s unified field for taxation, theatre for warfare, and space for the implementation of trade law and policy. Seeing the region as one is therefore in your diplomatic DNA, and this we urge that you remember.

Finally, Sir, I write from the perspective of an academic bred in Britain and reared in the University of the West Indies, an institution your nation planted in Kingston in 1948 with a small but significant grant. It would honour us to show you what we the people have reaped from this single seed.

We have created a flourishing federal farm that now cultivates the minds of millions, a symbol of our collective determination to take seriously our self-responsibility and to place our dignity as an emerging nation before any other consideration. From this singular seed we have grown one of the finest universities in the world crafted by our hands and inspired by our dreams.

This story, Sir, can guide your reflection as to who we are and what we expect of you. We urge you then, in this light, to indicate your nation's willingness to work towards a reparatory justice programme for the Caribbean, with a view to allowing us to come together in order to come to closure, put this terrible past behind us, and to leave it to us to continue the making of our future.

Kindest regards

Hilary Beckles
Chairman, Caricom Reparations Commission
(Professor Hilary Beckles delivers his milestone lecture on African reparations from Britain/pan-Europe on the latter’s centuries of the enslavement of African peoples in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Americas; venue: Methodist Church Hall, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, 20 August 2013)
 Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Igbo Americans and the US presidential election

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

IN HIS USUAL strategic articulations on the interest and future wellbeing of Igbo people, George Enyoazu has on his Facebook wall, beginning 8 September 2016, raised the profound issue of choice for Igbo Americans as they decide to vote at the US presidential election on Tuesday 8 November 2016. This initiative, as would have been expected, resulted in a debate involving several correspondents and the exchanges have indeed been hearty and informative. 

Enyoazu emphatically asks Igbo Americans to prioritise or privilege the motherland, Biafra, when they go out to cast their vote at this poll. One cannot overemphasise Enyoazu’s timely appeal. I am not aware of any US administration since the outbreak of the Igbo genocide in May 1966 during the Lynden Johnson presidency that has unambiguously supported genocidist Nigeria as that of Barack Obama’s (and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state). The historic tragedy of this support for the continuation of the Igbo genocide is underscored, further, by the fact that Obama is the first African-descent president of the US republic in 233 years of existence. Hillary Clinton states clearly that her presidency, if she were elected, would continue the essentials of 8 years of the Obama residency. 

Igbo Americans surely have a role to play in these hectic times and surely they cannot ignore the 3.1 million and more Igbo murdered since Sunday 29 May 1966 as they cast their votes in November. Or, would they? I am posting the following link as a contribution to this all important subject that Enyoazu has started:
(Sonny Rollins Quintet, “Decision” [personnel: Rollins, tenor saxophone, Donald Byrd, trumpet; Wynton Kelly, piano; Gene Ramey, bass; Max Roach, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, US, 16 December 1956])

87th birthday of Bede Okigbo

(Born 29 September 1929, Ojoto, Biafra)
Agronomist, one of Africa’s preeminent agricultural scientistscousin of economist Pius Okigbo and poet Christopher Okigbo, distinguished head of the Biafra land directorate who works indefatigably to boost food production throughout the country in response to the expansively catastrophic land, sea and aerial siege of the Biafran population (31 March 1967-12 January 1970), unprecedented in African history, during the Igbo genocide by Nigeria and its suzerain state Britain in which 3.1 million Igbo are murdered in this foundational genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa
(Max Roach & Anthony Braxton, “Birth” [personnel: Roach, drums; Braxton, reeds; recorded: Ricordi Studios, Milan, Italy, 7 September 1978])

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

83rd birthday of Samora Machel

(Born 29 September 1933, Madragoa, Mozambique)
Nurse, brilliant and highly accomplished commander of Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, Mozambique Liberation Front, which frees Mozambique from nearly 500 years of the Portuguese conquest, occupation and immiseration, June 1975, and becomes first African president of the victorious republic
(Sonny Clark Trio – with Max Roach and George Duvivier, Rare session [41.46 mins] includes  “Minor meeting”, “Nica”, “Sonny’s crib”, “Blues blue” and “My conception” [personnel: Clark, piano; Duvivier, bass; Roach, drums; recorded: AllMusic, New York, US, 23 March 1960])

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

85th birthday of John Gilmore

(Born 28 September 1931, Summit, Mississippi, US)
Intensely studious tenor saxophonist and bass clarinettist who plays in the Sun Ra Arkestra during the course of 42 years (1953-1995) where he becomes the lead instrumentalist
(Freddie Hubbard Sextet – featuring John Gilmore, “Summetime” [personnel: Hubbard, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Gilmore, tenor saxophone; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Art Davis, bass; Louis Hayes, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood cliffs, NJ, US, 2 July 1962])