Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.
Mother Africa Is Calling - Journey to South Africa - Part II
The flea market like all flea markets was crowded with bargain hunters. There was everything from beads, fabrics, carvings, pictures, candles, etc. We spent about two hours there. I had occasion to talk to Jeff King, a renowned musician about a benefit for Dar-fur. He readily agreed. He wanted the Jazz Consortium involved. I told him I had already talked to Jitu, also, Saxon, a saxophonist who in addition to having his own group plays with Randy Weston. He reminded me that I had prayed for his mother many years before. His mother is doing ok now.
On the way to the next stop, I discussed the Dar-fur benefit with Jitu and Bob Myers. He is director of Communication for the Brooklyn Jazz Consortium. We tentatively set April 28, 2007, as the date for the benefit. I agreed to identify the venue upon my return.
Next stop was a mall. It was the same as any other mall in any city. I wondered why we were being brought to this place. It wasn’t long before I discovered why. Mr. Ndebele made sure we were all together, and then he marched us to the only Black business in the mall. It was a startling revelation, at this late date, after the ANC has been in power for over twelve years, in this extensive mall, there is only one small Black business.
The business was a massage shop with various oils, lotions and creams for sale. There was manicure, pedicure and foot care available. I received a foot oil and massage. It cost twenty-one dollars for half an hour. It did very little for my feet. However, I was glad I had spent the money. It was a culture tax that I paid gladly. Most all of the delegation and staff made purchases of one kind or another.
It was near 6:00 p.m. when we got back on the bus. Next stop was an open-air tavern. There was a shed over part of the yard. It was deep in the Black part of town. Some of the delegation wanted to visit “our part of the town.” We did. It was the same as any other disadvantage, exploited section of a city.
There were drinks, beer, wine and all of the hard stuff and plenty of tobacco smoke. They drank, danced and told stories in loud voices. Honesty compelled me to say this was the worst part of the trip. When the food finally arrived it consisted of maize, like grits, salsa saturated veggies, sausage and what appeared to be lamb. I decided I would wait until I returned to the hotel.
It was 11:30 p.m. when we arrived back at the hotel. We immediately packed for the next day. We will be changing hotels. On the TV there was breaking news from British news sources. Prime Minister Tony Blair planned to withdraw British troops, 1500 by the summer and 1500 by the end of the year. There are 7000 British troops in Iraq, almost all of them in the South. The stated reason was that the Iraqi army was able to maintain control. Other reasons maybe, Tony Blair will be resigning soon. He wants to leave a legacy that he set the stage for withdrawal. Still another reason, similar to the former, was the public’s demand for withdrawal. Increasingly, as in the U. S. A. the public is fed up with the war.
The next day, Wednesday the 21st, we were up for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Joining us was Dr. Pace. He is a preacher’s kid (p. k.) we learned. He is one of thirteen children and the only artist in the family. Still resonating in my mind is the neglect of his work in Foley Square. It is in the area that is part of the African Burial Ground. Yet, his work is not mentioned whenever Africa Burial Ground is talked or written about. The General Service Administration (GSA) and those organizations associated with it refuse or neglect to give his sculpture status or recognition. Dr. Pace thinks Mr. Giuliani had something to do with it. He is always interesting. His constant crackling laugher sets a climate of joy and cordiality.
We were scheduled to leave at 7:00 a.m. instead it was 9:00 a.m. – what else is new? It does seem that time among people of African ancestry wherever they are found is to be verbalize not actualized. It was a shinny day. The climate was very comfortable. Riding across the country, I was struck by the spaciousness and contrast. There seem to be endless land stretching toward the mountains and/or horizon. There was the contrast of lush green field, ubiquitous corn fields, and green grass, trees and shrubbery. Then there was aridity, long stretches of barrenness – brown grass, weeds, and dirt.
On and on we rode, across twisting paved highways, up and down mountains and hill sides. For the most part it was a single highway.
The absence of life added to the feel of barrenness. There was a lonely quietness out there, and a feel of mystery. How many forms of life had moved across this piece of terra firma, I wonder?
Here and there we passed shanties. These are make-shift houses. But to say houses is a misnomer. There are small huts made from scrapes of anything, mostly tin and cardboard. What a sin and a shame, here in this vast land, fertile soil, all kinds of minerals including diamonds, a wide variety of animals, human beings are forced or allowed to live in such degrading conditions. Now we were passing grazing white cows, I mean all white and all of them. I wondered if some scientists were trying to prove white cows are better than black cows. The idea is not far fetch. The minds that could conceive and implement a system of apartheid are capable of any evil or stupidity or insanity.
My wife related the story Ma Tambo told her regarding some shanties. There was an effort to rebuild the shanties. The people resisted. They wanted to rebuild them themselves in their own way. So, in some shanties there are new houses built, but they are built on the spot where the huts were. Thus, the new houses were interspersed among the old houses. There is no pattern or system. Roads crisscross each other haphazardly giving the appearance of confusion.
It reminded me of Bangkok, Thailand, a beautiful city which is called the Sin City of Asia. In the 1970’s, the World Council of Churches (WCC) concluded a three year study on Salvation today.
We had studied with scholars, theologians, revolutionaries, students, political leaders, artists, etc. from different parts of the world and in difference places in the world. So now we were in Bangkok. There was an area in the city where people lived in awful squalor. The government built new houses, although they were several stories high, they were clean and spacious. The people refused to move into the new apartments.
To be continued
Memorial Weekend – A Time to Remember our Heroes and Heroines
Saturday, March 10, 2007
From 10:00 a.m. – noon
We will remember Sonny Carson and Lumumba Carson
Lunch – noon until 2:00 p.m.
Dr. John Henry Clark and Dr. Betty Shabazz
From 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At the House of the Lord Church
All are invited
Sunday, March 11, 2007 @ noon
Church members will be remembered
Organizing Meeting on Darfur
each Thursday, noon to two p.m.
at The House of the Lord Church 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY