Thursday, January 26, 2017

Building Love - 2017

Growing Trust

Trust is the operative word for a Building Love. . The operative skill is how to build trust when distrust is induced? Oppression induces us to distrust ourselves and each other. It’s like learning to grow food in a torrential rain. Conventional growing wisdom is not enough. However, the skill of AYA’s 2017 Black Love Building Honorees is more than sufficient. The honorees are:

Brother Wade and Sister Monica Muhammad

Brother Wade and Sister Monica Muhammad have cut a new path through a thicket of obstacles. They have been growing their love in this torrent of oppression for nearly 28 years. This year, they will celebrate their 25th anniversary and they will celebrate their children: 5 girls, 2 boys and their “bonus” sons and daughters:

  • Ayanna and bonus son - Jeff 
  • Aisha and bonus son - George 
  • Amiynah and our bonus son - Jamar
  • Horace
  • Emmanuel
  • Zuheerah 
  • Tynnetta

For them, nation-building is family building. It is at the center of their building with and for our people. They are also proud of the grands which they call Generation X. With the latest grand on the way, Wade and Monica have figured out how to grow family cohesiveness in a torrential rain. They are so smoooooth at it, though!

Modesty rules. Brother Wade is probably shaking his head at the attention garnered by this short introduction. He and Monica give credit to the presence of Allah - God in their hearts and their lives.  However, it would be an error to take their modesty for weakness or timidity.

They are quiet a powerhouse in our community – touching lives, teaching, organizing and leading by example. Guided by the  “do for self” philosophy together they continue to procure land and create a sustainable family agricultural business.

When pressed for the keys to their success, the answer from their lips is the same. “The success we have experienced on our journey thus far is the Synchronicity of our Belief in putting Allah God at the forefront of everything.”

The consistency of their actions, their unselfishly sharing themselves with the community, and risking to make “do for self” a reality, tell the same story in a more observable way.

Across generations in the family and across various groups in the Black community, they’ve learned to engender trust over distrust. They have learned how to grow food in a torrential rain.

Join us. Their love has something for us. In turn, they need us to help hold back the rain – so they can grow some more food for our community.

See you on Feb. 11th @ 7pm.

Young Love - 2017

Young Love in a Bowl, or Two

New love (and young love) is awkward. It has incredible highs and lows as bottomless as the ocean. Young love is vulnerable love, especially in this oppressive environment which uses individualism, self-blame, induced identity confusion, the superior/inferior line, and more to thwart its journey to maturity. With all that and more, young love is our only hope. We embrace it and surround it with support and protection. To that end, it's with great pleasure that we announce
AYA's  2017 Black Love Young Love Honorees:

Ruby and Tenisio Seanima

They have been building together for 8 years and married for 4. They have been fruitful  - Fasola, Kwame, Malik are a testament to that.

They have been fruitful in the community as well. They both attend to our community's health in different and complimentary ways. Tenisio is an agrarian. He cultivates the land and advocates for Black farmers – urban and rural. He’s a disc jockey and audiophile attending to our people’s music, our musical story, and legacy. He’s also a Basu (yogi) working to provide stability for AfRaKan people via our holistic health.

Ruby is a physician and educator. She educates the next generation of health professionals and is the first teacher of her children. She is also a health coach, consultant, and speaker. She is creating a community of women dedicated to their own and their family’s well-being. Her goal is to stimulate generational transmission and a self-determination particularly in the areas of health, wellness and abundance for our families and community.

Tenisio and Ruby are being honored because their young love is grounded in respect for their respective families, our community, and our culture. They do not take Afrikan culture, our sustenance, nor our thriving for granted. They examine everything critically. They seek counsel from elders they respect and are respected among their peers.

They nurture our people, our community, their families, their children. They also know the wisdom of the Kongo:

“Love is like a baby, it has to treated tenderly.”

To that end, they’ve embraced AYA's Warrior-Healer-Builder (WHB)  model and other models to help nurture their love. One particular novel application of the River of Touches is what Tenesio calls the two bowls – The Thought Bowl and The God Bowl.

He says: “The Thought Bowl is a receptacle where we place loving notes about each other in good times and The God Bowl is the receptacle where we place notes regarding our relationship challenges in hard times. When either of us places a note in The God Bowl, we notify the spouse of its presence. Before the two of us address the note's content, we pull out all of the notes from the Thought Bowl and read them to each other to remind us of the love we have despite the current issue addressed in the God Bowl note.

Ruby expresses this nurturing with the terms: “Patience and Space.” She says, “we need the patience to weather the ups and downs that come into our relationship - knowing that the end goal is more powerful than the energy of the moment. We also need space to let each of us be ourselves and grow individually, so that we may be stronger together."

"The "end goal," the "Thought and God Bowls, " The River of Touches" - they are working to build a love foundation to serve our people for a long time to come.

Thought Bowl / God Bowl
Join us as we surround this young love with our love. Let's praise their work and bless their journey and extend the same to other "young lovers" at our 5th annual Black Love Dinner Celebration. Come. You might even learn why the "hard time" notes go in the “God Bowl.”

Get your tickets now:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Goodbye St. Valentine

Seek Tyehimba Love. Send a Tyehimba card. 

AYA's Black Love awards are not popularity contests. 

To get your hands on one of these, you have to earn it.

Black love is in need of love today. We need real Black-Afrikan relationship-building, family building, nation building love.

Tyehimba love is the kind of love that you'll fight for, and it's the kind that will help you fight against anything that threatens your love or our people. It's a laughing, crying, on the beach and in the trenches kind of love. It's an ancient Afrikan love from the beginning of time that responds to the urgency of now - recreating itself - changing while staying the same.

It's a healing love - one that soothes the wounds born of oppression, one that nurtures a confident and creative hand as you seek to heal family or build an organization or business.

It's a Black love that also stiffens your back as you face the winds of resistance and days of loneliness that accompany your decision to take the Afrikan growth road - less traveled.

It's a love that also strengthens your grip as you reach to snatch our freedom from the tyrant's mouth.

This is the kind of love modeled by 2015 Honorees - Baba Watani and Mama Ahadi Tyehimba and many other honorees. It's not a popular love, it's a principled one which transforms those in it to transform our world from death to life.
St. Valentine doesn't know anything about this kind of love. He only knows an escapist love that hides his need to dominate - even in the bedroom. 

It is a pseudo candy-coated love-domination born of his inadequacies - hundreds of centuries old. It's so old he knows nothing of the spiritual transcendence embodied in "I am because we are and we are because I am." He gives lip service to - but is not "turned on" - by the complementary wholeness that defines Afrikans. 

Domination is his surrogate, his pacifier for the wholeness that is your birthright. His perfumes hide the smell of his decaying soul. The more we follow him, the more our relationships and our souls begin to smell like his.

So leave St. Valentine. Leave his sham, scripted love fests that dissolve to tears, which tastes of sawdust when the artificial sweetener wears thin. Abandon his love-domination scheme that leaves us questioning our worth and abandoning our real divinity.
That is his albatross, not yours. Leave him.

Seek Tyehimba love. Come watch it, catch it, touch it, and dance to the heartbeat of revolutionary Black Love. Come home to real Black Love @ BLD 2018.

*Get your tickets: HERE

*Donate to this AYA Fundraising effort by buying a ticket for a college-age young person who needs to see authentic Black love.

*Be Real Black For Me 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Revolutionary Long Love - 2017

 Ours is a daily, yet protracted challenge. We are at war. To make revolution we need revolutionary love. 
Revolutionary love nurtures warriors, nurtures healers, and nurtures builders. 
Drum roll please ... the selection for the 2017 BLC Revolutionary Long Love award has been made. And the winning couple is - Yaa Mawusi Baruti and Mwalimu K. Bomani Baruti - the co-founders of Akoben House and Akoben Institute. Choosing from among deserving couples was a labor of love.

We hope that you'll come out to celebrate and be inspired by this couple's revolutionary love. Here's just a snippet.

This Revolutionary Love couple has been married for over 30 years. While they were attracted to each other physically, what makes their love revolutionary is that it was built on their common and unwavering love for our people and their determination to make revolutionary change for our people - in their life times.

Their search for knowledge of Ourstory became more urgent when they had a daughter,
Aliyanna Aziz, who they determined would learn about her culture from day one. This lead to the creation of Akoben Institute - an independent Afrikan centered full-time and after-school, home-schooling and tutorial program for middle and high schoolers.

The goal of their love is the same as for their lives – Re-Afrikanization and Sovereignty for themselves and Afrikan people. Deep down, they each came to the relationship with that fire.

They also came with their differences. Ironically, it is those difference that contributed to their making Revolutionary Love. How could that be? Wouldn’t the differences create impediments? They appreciated the differences and used them to compliment each other
s strengths and weaknesses, habits, and proclivities. This practice has matured into a revolutionary life and a masterpiece called Complementarity – which is both the name of Baba Bariti’s best-selling book and their annual conference and fundraiser.

He is also the author of the book, “A Warrior’s Love.”
 “If you don’t have complementarity, you don’t have family. If you don’t have family, you don’t have a nation.” -- Baruti.
Ena Yaa, the author of “Womanhood,” says “If you don’t have a relationship, you can’t make family.” 

Together they have also built Akoben House - an Afrikan centered publishing company dedicated to the dissemination of consciousness raising writings, workshops, speeches, and more. They are known for their selfless dedication to our people. 

Come, lift them up, and learn more. 
  • How did they do it? 
  • Do revolutionaries actually have romantic love? 
  • Can you engage in romantic love, when we're at war?
  • If they've nurtured both - how did they do it? 
  • Are revolutionary and romantic love really separate things?

It is their revolutionary work that has centered their love, and their love has cemented their revolutionary work. Come and show your love for the Revolutionary
Long Love Award Winners for 2017!

Purchase tickets:

Ancestral Love - 2017

Come celebrate love kissed by the ancestors and wrapped in service to the family, the community, our people and our war against white-supremacy, for self-determination, and sovereignty.

AYA's Black Love Celebration honoree for Ancestral Love has been chosen. 

We are pleased to honor The ancestor - freedom fighter, Iyalosha Fulani Nandi Adegbalola Sunni-Ali. Sister Fulani Sunni Ali.  Iya Fulani has been described as, 

A Revolutionary Black Female Nationalist /Republic of New Afrika”

This is what makes AYA's Black Love Celebration special - we celebrate 360 degrees of Black Love. Unless your romantic love is kissed by the ancestors, it is "alien love." If enemies of our people define your romantic love, define "what turns you on," then the foundation of family and the foundation of the nation is destroyed.

From her early years she was a citizen of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Africa which has sought to create a black nation in the five Southern States of Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.  The PGRNA, established in 1968 will celebrate 50 years in 2018.

Iya Fulani experienced the building of Black Nationhood over several decades. She was a revolutionary, wife, mother, spiritual leader, and community builder.

Fulani was a committed wife to revolutionary nationalist, activist, and musician - Bilal Sunni Ali (right). Their daughter, Aiyisha, will receive the award for the family.

Through our love for her and our commitment to revolutionary nationalism, she’ll continue to rise in us. 
On Saturday, February 11th, 2017 the beauty of Iya Fulani’s spiritual voice will guide our love. 

Come feel Iya Fulani's undying revolutionary love for our people. 

Take it in. 
Dance to it. 
Sing with it. 
Then use it to make your romantic and revolutionary love sweeter.

Purchase your tickets now

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Diagramming Sentences or Alienating Souls?

Author: Wekesa Madzimoyo

This image was a part of a FB post and article: A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences.  Here are some of the FB comments:
  • I remember diagramming sentences in school and really loved doing it on the blackboard and finding the placement of every word in the sentence. Oh! what a wonderfully thrilling challenge and I usually got them correct."
  • "Wish they still taught it in school."
  • I'm convinced this is at least part of the reason today so many people can't write or use proper grammar."
  • I certainly do remember doing this! Loved it!
Certainly, many enjoy misty-eyed memories of English instruction. If that's your lot, I'm glad that you had instructors, families, and/or situations that foster great memories.

I must mourn. While some saw us diagramming sentences, I felt that we were dissecting and alienating souls.

Part of my "not knowing, or "not caring" about "proper" grammar was in part a rebellion against the implied "improper" label directed at us - African people - via the door of "improper" usage of the oppressor's language.

Being taught to use the English language code to challenge oppression, and even to get to know and appreciate African and African-American language codes that we spoke would have helped me have fun with diagramming sentences.

I wasn't asked or allowed to analyze my Great Grandfather's "Gwine" as in "I'm gwine (going) tuh da sto." My mom called him “Papa.” I knew him as “Papa Down The Road.” I remember the mild shock of discovering that his name was really Oscar McClain. My mother's eyes lit up when she said his name. Dad always made sure we visited – with a gift - usually a cigar and a nip.

Papa Down The Road aka Oscar McClain  Photo by Wekesa
Madzimoyo - All Rights Reserved.
Papa’s language code was never invited into the school, and certainly not into the language class. Instead, I was taught to distance myself from it, and hence from him. Not one time did the instructor make sure that I could communicate "correctly" or "properly" with Papa. His code was simply not worth diagramming, I suppose.

My mother, grandfather, uncles were ministers;  language was central in our family. Our language was like our dancing on Friday night or shoutin' on Sunday morning - hot, moving, sensual, rhythmic, philosophical and correct in ways that the English language and English people weren't and probably never will be.

Sometimes I did mix Papa's or the minster's language in my responses at school. Instructors would lay it on the cold surgical table of proper English and cut it out. Where they saw only grades and red marks on paper, I saw blood streaming...

I know. I was there. Learning to speak the oppressor's language better than "they" was also source of family pride, it was a hope that I wouldn't suffer as much, a prayer that whites would accept me (us), and a rejoinder to the claim that we were inferior: "See, we can speak your own language better than you."

Sawdust. It was like chewing on sawdust. Over the long night of oppression, our retreat to survive had morphed into surrender. We didn't learn English to evade, invade, or gain a strategic advantage that would lead to liberation. We didn't nurture or develop our own language codes for our own purposes. Dunbar’s 1896 “We Wear the Mask” had become too faint of a reminder.

Now, by the 1950-60's, we sought to become the mask. The prevailing strategy was to show that we had mastered the words and the syntax of the language which severed our ancestor's tongues.

Fortunately, mixed in with my family pride at my English language acquisition were spikes. “You, talkin’ white” was also a challenge hurled at my increasing English language prowess. It was a sharply pointed admonition for me to remember to wear my proficiency as a mask, and a tool to invade and evade. I know now, that such a challenge was a legitimate request that I REASSURE them that I wouldn't lose my connection to them and that I wouldn't take on White views about them as my own.

Grand Ma Hettie’s insistence on speaking her language code with style and flair reminded me not to become the new slasher - cutting our people's tongues and spirits by seeing them as “improper” when they chose to speak a different language code than our oppressors.

Grandma - Hettie Tucker
Photographer - Unknown. Property of Tucker Family - all rights reserved.
She was a great thinker, cook, farmer, and shooter, and a-prayin' kind of woman. Her constant prayer included

“ thank you, Lord, for waking me up this morning; keeping me clothed in my right mind...”

She didn't shadow her spirit or her speech no matter where she was. Her doing so kept me clothed in my right mind and made sure that I didn’t unwittingly become the mask of terror.

I was in at UNC-CH by the time I heard Claude McKay's “If We Must Die.” It grabbed me  - instructed me on how I could use this language to express my disdain for the countless tongues, arms, legs, hands, and hopes that had been severed or twisted by English and other racist instruction.

Then came David Walker’s “Appeals,” then Henry Highland GarnetFrancis Ellen Watkins Harper, Ida B. Wells and countless others helping to make sure my grandmother’s prayers were answered.

I had graduated before I learned of Sterling Brown’s "Long Track Blues," "Battle of Joe Meek," and "Conjured." When I meet Zora’s Tea Cake and Janie, I was in heaven. I could trust them to navigate language codes without losing their souls or inducing me to lose mine.

My family was welcomed in their house of instruction - in their language classes.

Where were they when I was in the 4th grade at PS 26 in Brooklyn?
Where were they when I was at J. S. Spivey in Jr. High School in Fayetteville, NC?

I did have Black teachers who worked to make it fun and relevant. They even managed to get me to win an award or two. A handful was like Ms. Meterine McClean and Ms. Fannie Jenkins.  Tall, dark-skinned Ms. McClean was my Jr. High School Librarian who introduced me to the Carter G. Woodson's ASALH encyclopedia set. This was years before I would discover his Miseducation of the Negro. She nurtured my love of reading.  When Ms. Jenkins, who saw education as a battle too, encouraged me to fight oppression. I aced Geometry.

It was hot in the classroom for more reason that one. The first nine weeks were about to end, I was slouching in geometry class. Ms. Jenkins asked me to stay after class. In more of a connecting that condemning voice, she said: "Boy, you know you can do this work. What's your problem?" For some reason, I knew I could trust her with the truth. "I don't want to be here. I wanted to go to E.E. Smith. I don't want to be at this white school." Son, she said, "I don't want to be here either. I was forced to come, just like you were." Could it really be that she wasn't going to talk me out of being angry and disappointed? We talked, she agreed to be the faculty adviser to the newly forming Black Student Union and said "Since we're both here. We might as well make the best of it. So, why don't you do this geometry?" I said I would if my geometric proofs didn't have to follow those in the book. "As long as they are correct," she said. I still love Geometry to this day - fifty years later.

Though stumbling and often giving mixed messages, my family, community,  a few teachers, and the Black Power Movement made sure that in the tug-a-war for my soul, my psyche, my allegiance, and my power, that English language and other instruction - as dissection and alienation - didn't win.

Education in 2017 - be it grammar, geometry or computer programming - is still a battleground for the identity and souls of our people. It's not popular to talk in such terms today. The warriors are old now, and the generations-old alienation and identity blood-letting have morphed into what educator and author of From Mediocre to Marvelous, Debra Watkins calls "self-loathing." Student resistance is still present - only the enemy (oppression) is often mistaken for self. The old and new warriors are called to become healers and builders as well.

My mother also taught me not to "make you happy twice," and I fear that while you may have been happy to see me come, I'm getting close to you becoming happy to see me go, so I'll take my leave now.

Gwine spend some time with Papa Down the Road. Did I tell you that he lived ‘till he was 103? That's a mark for me.

Gwine na sit on da porch, talk with him, sip some of that "cone lika" he liked, and get lost in the sounds, rhythms, imagery and wisdom of those old stories he loved to tell.

Wanna come?  C'mon. Get up off that cold surgical table and join us. There is plenty of room on Papa’s porch.

PS: This awareness has spawned AYA's Family Lore Project. Check it out:

(C) copyright Wekesa O. Madzimoyo 2017

AYA's Melanin Mastery Cohorts Forming

AYA Parents, I sent this out last Saturday. The response has been overwhelming. Here are some of the responses: Monica Utsey   I am ONE...