Tribute to three griots
HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 11/28/2011, 4:30 p.m.
While the Nat Turner Cultural Collective had billed Black Solidarity Day last Sunday afternoon as a tribute to three stricken griots-Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan, Gil Noble and Elombe Brath-the event was vitally intergenerational, with elders blended with young rappers and performance artists.
Moderator Shaka Shakur, one of the event's coordinators, put the proceedings in context when he informed the audience at the National Black Theater that our elderly citizens had experienced more abuse than children. "Our elderly should not be wondering where they will be when they reach their nineties," Shakur asserted.
These sentiments were firmly echoed by Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad of Mosque #7 during his video address. In his estimation, Dr. Ben, Noble and Brath were spiritual warriors. "They are communicators and historians," he said, who have played an important role in keeping the community informed "particularly during this time when we are at war."
Muhammad stressed the importance of land in the Black struggle for freedom and equality. "We need land in order to build our schools, houses...our future," he said.
The tone was clearly set for the arrival of Sekou 720 and Sister Tyreen, who in their separate appearances rocked the joint with their fusillade of rhyming words and phrases loaded with insight and poignancy.
Sekou expounded on "gangsta lovin' even though they be sellin' crack rocks." Thug life and drug life resonated in his spill warning his young brothers and sisters about the dangers they faced coming of age. "Hey, youngblood, the world is yours," he concluded.
"The holocaust has come to the hood," Sister Tyreen intoned in a rapid-fire delivery that brought the crowd to its feet with applause. She bemoaned a society in which Black youngsters are "labeled criminals before puberty." It's the "ballot or the bullet," she continued, invoking Malcolm X and adding that the "bullet had a color."
Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz commended the Collective and then lit into Barack Obama, whom he defined as a "buck dancing Negro...who we should just call Barry." Shabazz, a leader of the New Black Panther Party, said that Obama "never says anything good about his father...and he can bomb and send drones better than the white man. He's gone mad."
Before Shakur brought family members of the honorees to the podium, he presented Queen Nasira Asantewa Sekou, another of the event's coordinators, who once more stressed the need to care for our elders, which she is doing so effectively through HAS (Harlem Advocacy for Seniors).
Along with the keynote address by Dhoruba bin Wahad with his peerless understanding of the geo-political situation impacting people of color, the evening was one deserving a wider airing, even relevant enough for the show that has replaced "Like It Is," on WABC-TV.
And that relevancy was bolstered by the appearance of Lisa Noble, Gil's daughter; Ruth ben-Jochannan, Dr. Ben's daughter; Kwame Brathwaite, Elombe's brother; Cinque Brath, Elombe's son, and Dr. Ben's granddaughter.
According to Brother Shakur, a DVD version of the tribute exists, and maybe somebody can get the word out to the folks at WABC.