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 IV

Leaving the World Heritage site, our next stop was the Mbabane, Taung Center about an hour away. The Center is a modern building which accommodates many many activities, sewing, pottery making, and artistic projects; also there are many kinds of conferences, sports, business etc. They were playing full court basketball outside when we drove up. Immediately, I ran to the court and joined a team. I surprised everybody with how well I played especially my stamina and energy.

Inside the center, there was a spacious dining area with black and orange décor. It was downstairs. The auditorium where the program was held was upstairs. Prior to the dinner, there was a rather lengthy program. Each speaker did his/her best to impress. On the program was the Mayor of the Taung local municipality, JAH Pilgrimage Tour, Mr. Lungile Tya Tya. Mr. Tya Tya is also a board member of the Northwest Providence and Tourist Board, Conservation of Heritage Resources, spokesperson Mr. Phakamani Buthelezi. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Kaone Lolobelo, who, by the way, delivered the shortest speech.

I was asked to speak on behalf of the U. S. delegation. In my remarks, I said, “On behalf of the U. S. delegation I want to express our gratitude for your hospitality. The dancing and singing, the cordiality, and lessons of history have left me with a feeling that I have been here before. I was home. This providence, which you have called paradise, surely is a place of beauty and spirituality.”

Before I proceed, I feel compelled to evoke the memory of Adelaide Tambo. She is representative of the committed souls and freedom fighters whose lives were sacrificed that we might have the opportunities we enjoyed today and the shiny future that awaits us. Susilu, Chris Hana, Steve Biko, David Sabaco, Johnnie Macatini and all the mighty Xhosa, and Zulu warriors who are representatives of all the tribes, and nations who fought for freedom.

The last time I was in this great country, 1991, I came as a member of Mayor David Dinkins delegation. He was the 106th mayor of the City of New York and the cities’ first mayor of African ancestry. Mr. Mandela was not yet free. But hope was high the prison gates would soon swing open wide. The constitution that would govern a free South Africa, was being fashioned. One of the most memorable times was with the Tambos. Mr. Tambo was in the hospital. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch, Mrs. Tambo and I went to see him. We were told that his days were numbered. He was growing weaker by the hour. I prayed for him there. I prayed that God would heal him if it be God’s will. If not, that God would grant him a peaceful transition and a great reward which I believed he richly deserved. And that God would comfort the family and keep them strong and committed in our continued struggle.
Ma Tambo had planned a reception for us that evening. To our great surprise Mr. Tambo, arose from his sick bed and made his way to the reception. Before the ceremony began, Ma Tambo and other respected leaders engaged us in a ritual of oneness that would make us one people. In the ritual, there was the blood exchanged. Gently we punctured our skin and mingled our blood. At the conclusion, Ma Tambo gave us Mr. Dinkins and me two shirts, one of which, I am wearing tonight and will probably wear it for the last time. If I live to be a thousand, the memory of that time, particularly the reception, will be ever fresh in my mind.

Let us not forget, the godfather of the African Liberation Movement, Mr. Joshua Nkomo and all the warriors of Zimbabwe African People Unity (ZAPU) and Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). Mr. Nkomo and ZAPU delegation visited our church in 1977. We had raised funds which we gave to him. During that time, the South African government was raining bombs on the refuge camps killing men, women and children. Yet, Mr. Nkomo declared victory in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. Southern Rhodesia is the country that ZAPU and ZANU were struggling to gain power and control. Mr. Ian Smith was the Prime Minister. He along with Mr. Botha who was Prime Minister of South Africa, were proclaiming perpetuity for their regimes.

And let us not forget Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Segou Toure of Guinea and many many other, courageous freedom fighters all.

Honorable sirs and madams, brothers and sisters, as you know JAH February 15-25, 2007, stands for Jazz African Heritage is sponsored by the Northwest Parks and Tourism Board Mr. Charles Ndebele is the chief executive officer and Mr. Tay Tay is a board member. They have been co-hosts for our delegation. Their patience, wisdom and knowledge are deeply appreciated. They came to the U. S.A. last year. They were an impressive delegation.

Everywhere they went their decorum, eloquent, sensitivity and friendliness left a lasting impression. They were proud sons and daughters of South Africa. We were ready to say yes to whatever they asked of us. Then having joined with the Jazz Consortium, Brooklyn, a group of renowned artists, under the leadership of Jitu Weusi the educator, the organizer, the cultural crusader, they issued a challenged, the Mother land is calling. Who could refuse? We were not among those who could say no. Thus, we who are here today, answered the call.

Honorable sirs and madams, brothers and sisters you might be interested to know who is in our delegation. They are some of the most admired and respected sons and daughters of Africa living outside of the continent of Africa. We have with us Father Martin Carter, Our Lady of Victory in Brooklyn, Bishop Nathaniel Townsly and his Gospel Jubilee, Mr. Roue Doudou Bocell, JAH coordinator in Canada, Drs. Hynes and Uzmon, Arizona State University, Randy Weston with his wife and his band, Jeff King, his wife and his band, Mr. Saxon and his trio, Vanessa Rubin and her trio who performed earlier in the program, Dr. Lorenzo Pace whose artistic expression takes a physical form in the African Burial Ground, Manhattan U.S.A., Dr. Olivia Cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney and Edna Moshette and the Jazz Consortium staff, Mr. Bob Myers, communication director, L. Jackson, treasurer, Betsy Edwards, board member and as I have mentioned Jitu and his wife Angela and of course my wife, of forty-four years, four children and two grandchildren, Rev. Dr. Karen Smith Daughtry.
To be continued
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