Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

Part I: The Passing of Giants of the Human Spirits

BABA MZEE MOYO (8/11/1943 - 8/16/2007)
MR. MAX ROACH (1/10/1924 – 8/16/2007)
DR. ASA G. HILLIARD, III (8/22/1933 - 8/16/2007)

It was another eventful day in the life of the People’s Pastor. First order of business for the day was the weekly Darfur Organizing Meeting, starting at 11am. The important, all consuming, item on the agenda was the collecting and allocation of money for the shipment of supplies to the refugee camp in Gaga, Chad, Central Africa. We succeeded in raising $16,200, the cost of the shipment from Douala, Cameroon, to the Refugee camp. We had already paid $5,000 for the shipment from South Kearny, New Jersey, to Douala.

The money was given to Yayha Osman, a Darfurian, who is responsible for guaranteeing the shipment to the refugee camp. I plan to join him when the shipment arrives in Chad. It was a great moment when we consummated the business. In a couple of months, we had succeeded in gathering 700 boxes, weighing 1,800 pounds, in a 40 foot container. All total, we had raised over $21,000.

Around the same time as our Darfur meeting, our daycare centers, (the Alonzo Daughtry Memorial Daycare Centers I & II) were celebrating our 36th Annual Graduation. With the Darfur crises, we addressed “the worst humanitarian crises in the world today,” according the United Nations (UN). With the graduation, we are caring for the seeds of the future.
It was at the Institute of the Black World’s (IBW) Pan African Unity Brunch, organized by its President, Dr. Ron Daniels, when I learned that Mzee Moyo had made his transition. The meeting was held at the State Office Building in Harlem on August 17th, Marcus Garvey’s birthday.

I met Mzee around 1978, when we were organizing the Black United Front (BUF) in response to the killing of a 15 year old black youth named Randolph Evans. A year-long boycott was implemented of the downtown Brooklyn stores. The EAST, headed by Jitu Weusi, was among the major organizations that made up the BUF. Out of the EAST came the Uhura Sasa, an independent Afrocentric school, and what was formerly, the African Street Carnival, and now the International Arts Festival. Mzee was a key player in all of the EAST’s operations.

He was President of the Uhura SASA Parent Council. He was director of EAST Caterers, co-founder of Kente Productions Consultant Firm. He was chairperson of the Social Service Committee for Planning Board 3. He was a member of the Dance Africa Council of Elders and co-founder of the Kwanzaa Collectives. He served as Chief of Operations of the International African Arts Festival for over 20 years. Under his leadership, the Festival reached the point where it was/is the largest of Global African Culture in the USA. Also, Mzee served as a homeless advocate for Colony South Brooklyn Houses. For over two decades, he assisted the homeless by coordinating Nat Turner Day Care Services for parents and organizing several food drives annually.

The viewing and funeral were concrete expressions of the pervasive love and appreciation the community had for Mzee. From the start of the viewing at 4pm, to the commencement of the ceremony at 6pm, and during the ceremony , there was a constant stream of admirers coming into the Church. The Church was packed, two deep standing room around the walls of the sanctuary and balcony. It was the largest funeral at our Church in recent memory.

While there were a few whites, the ceremony was all Africans. With the family, preceded by the drummers, we marched into the sanctuary. Adeyemi Bandele, veteran activist, and I officiated. I opened with welcome, prayer and scripture readings from St. John 14:1-3. “In my father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you…” The libation followed, conducted by Nana Nsia, Ana McKen and Neil Clark. A close friend, Russell Benjamin, offered the prayer of comfort. Among those offering community expressions were, Imam Obaba Oyo, Queen Mother Ma’asht Amm Amen, Jitu Weusi, and Sharonnie Perry. The eulogy was done by K. Mensah Wali. Music was supplied by Steve Cromity. The sons of Mzee, Baraka Moyo Smith and Zamani Moyo Smith, read the obituary and a poem respectively.

The ceremony was African and celebrative. Laughter and humor interspersed the solemnity and seriousness. There was a feeling of the unique African communal spirit. Though we were of different religions, political views, and ideologies, on this occasion, we were one African people. It is another testimony of the power and influence of Mzee, that he could bring so many different people in the African Diaspora in a Christian church united as one African people.

The traditional repast was served in the Fellowship Hall. There was enough food, of a wide variety, to feed the hundreds and to spare.

“The funeral seemed to be more of a celebration,” said one of our neighbors. “It was,” I said, “The celebration of a life well lived.” A special commendation needs to be paid to Mzee’s daughter, Salima, and son, Baraka, and the rest of the family. Even though they were grieving, they organized their father’s funeral with the highest professionalism and sensitivity. Other members of the family he leaves to mourn are: stepfather – Vincent Byron, sister – Deloris Smith, sons – Ogdonna, Babu, and Yarul; daughters include – Asha, Sala and Adenike; 7 grandchildren, a great-grand son, and hundreds of extended family members and friends.

Upcoming Events
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.
BCAT Program every 2nd and 4th Sunday @ 2p.m. For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991

Special Appeal: By the time this newspaper hit the stands, our shipment of 700 boxes will have arrived in Douala, Cameroon. It will remain there 7 days for processing. From there, it will travel over land to the Gaga refugee camp in Chad. The trip will take approximately 10 days. We have an urgent need for finances to defray cost for shipment and transportation. Total cost is estimated around $22,000 to $23,000. We have received generous support, and will publicize our donors unless instructed otherwise. We need to hear from you as soon as possible. You can make checks payable to the National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned About Darfur, Inc. or “NRLAA” for short. Mail to: The House of the Lord Church at 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11217. (Considering our 501(c)3 status has not yet been granted by the IRS, please check with your financial advisors regarding the deductible status of your donation.)