Queen Mother At Last!

December 25, 2010

Ok the third day of our trip in Senegal the focus was as ever to find Queen Mother. The previous night I met a brother with a sparkle in his eye. He just seemed very genuine without speaking a word of english (maybe that was why). While eating breakfast I had a interesting conversation regarding his homeland of Mauritania. He let me know that he is a famous musician in his country. At least according to him, his Facebook fans and comments say so. (gotta love it) He also told me that Black people in his country don’t have significant power although they are a huge population.

Using Skype I was able to call a brother named Muhammed who was assisting Queen Mother and he let me know their location. Shino and I boarded a shuttle bus taking us to the hotel where they were stationed. It was momentous when we saw the woman we’d been searching for, sitting in a very humble unassuming area. Queen Mother was very happy to see us, elated even. She informed us that she was working on getting our third team member Rico there at that very moment! Shino and I finally received our badges for the festival and were then directed to join a conference. We were then in jeans and t-shirts amongst delegates from all over the African diaspora representing our new home at the original home of all humanity. It was there that I heard people from all over discussing Pan-African ideals in a huge forum. An amazing experience to say the least.

After leaving the forum we left on an expedition to Goree Island to see where the African slaves were held before leaving their home. It was a humbling experience. One I will express further in my next writing.


Today was a walking day. The plan was to walk over to the hotel we believed to be a temporary home for Queen Mother. Queen Mother is an interviewee in the We The People project but she is also the projects liaison to Fesman, not to mention a U.S. Ambassador of Good Will. By all means we had to find her in order to figure out where and how our project would be shown. Also she was essential to bringing our third member Rico to Senegal.

Shino and I started out the day with our new friend Brahim from Morocco. While attempting to leave our makeshift artist village we ran into a great dance rehearsal. The movements were mesmerizing and foreign yet very familiar. I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, even if the branch is stretched across the Atlantic.

Once we had seen enough, the three of us made our way down road with only dirt and gravel as the side walk. Once outside the confines of the village a couple of hustlers descended upon us. Only one managed to keep up and make his pitch. He told a story of being a new father preparing to celebrate a his new son. According to his custom he wanted to give us a gift in the form if trinkets. That “gift” would later be asked to be returned when no donation was given.

After that minor detour we found a small restaurant for something to drink and good conversation. Brahim told Shino and I about his upbringing in Morocco and how “the kids today” knew nothing. He talked of sparing the rod to spoil the child and how the Egypt of today is more of a middle eastern country while in the past it was firmly North African in culture.

We eventually parted ways with Brahim as we would walk the rest of the way to the hotel we HOPED held Queen Mother. As we walked in I noticed a few Caribbean brothers sitting in the lobby. Later I would find out that they were the entourage for the great Reggae artist Capelton.

After over a year of work, beating the ground looking for folks to take notice and receiving donations of all types of support, we are on our way to Senegal. I can’t believe it myself even as I type this. A young man from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn will wake up very soon on the continent from which my ancestors came. In my lifetime I will get to walk on the land my people were snatched from. When I wrote a poem about that event back in the 4th or 5th grade I never dreamed this day would come.

I really want to thank all of you who have been supportive of this effort. Thank you to Rico for having the vision and drive to make We The People a reality. Thanks to Shino for using her lens to capture something truly beautiful. And most of all thank you both for bringing me into a project I truly believe in and feel represents my upbringing to the utmost.

I hope to make all of my people proud as I leave from New York City today. I will try to update my blog as often as I can while I’m out in Dakar. Can you believe that I’ll be bringing in the New Year on another continent. How crazy is that!?!


Cold Weather Love

December 15, 2010

I have no problem with cold weather. I’m from New York City and I’ve lived through my fair share of snow storms. I’m talking about storms where the schools were closed along with the offices. Back in the days in my projects we would have epic snow fights whenever it snowed heavy. I’m talking about everyone except the elders on the block getting bodied by snowballs. It was a favorite pastime of Brownsville. Sure we loved the summers too, but the winter held it’s own mystique and positive qualities. Now when I talk to folks all I hear is “man I don’t know how much longer I can take this cold.” or “I’m moving out of New York for somewhere warm.” I’m not knocking it but I’m saying…what’s wrong with the cold?

I’m a fan of sweaters. Turtle neck sweaters, knits, chain link knits, v-neck wool joints, I’m talking sweaters people. You can’t wear sweaters in any other weather besides winter. I have a Christmas Polo Ski Man sweater that I wear once a year in December. I wait all year to wear that sweater. If I move to a place where it’s warm all year around I can’t rock that sweater! And I love rocking boots! To me the winter is the best season for fashion. Maybe I romanticize metropolitan cities in the winter but I love em. I mean I love the city of Chicago and I’ve ONLY been in the winter. My friends from Chicago call me crazy for that. Hell my homie Lynette banned me from “The Crib” until I get a ticket to arrive in the summer. I’m sure it’s beautiful but I have a certain affinity for “THE HAWK”. For those of you not knowing, The Hawk is a term for really strong wind/cold weather. Some believe the term originated in the windy city. I must say, I’ve never felt cold like the winds in Chicago. It cuts right through your layers to the bone! I love walking through downtown Chitown listening to Common’s Resurrection album trying to find a Giordano’s to fill my belly. Hell in Chicago, instead of saying something is “hot” to show how much they like it, Chicagoans say it’s “cold”. It’s easy to see why I love the place.

So don’t get mad at the cold. There is nothing wrong with 32 degrees or below. Put some thermals on and a scarf. Pull your skully down extra tight and make sure you put on some Smif N Wesson or Wu Tang Clan to brave the elements. Don’t worry the wind doesn’t bite, unless you’re walking down Stoney Island. Then I can understand your tears and frown. But I say embrace the 4 seasons. They are all special.

Here’s a few songs to get you through this cold time of the year. Salute to all my cold weather lovers rocking those Timberland boots, with a North Face coat and Thinsulate gloves on.

Man I didn’t even know there WAS a video for this song. The album Til The Casket Drops came out over a year ago but I’m glad they made a visual for this record. The song is dope and heartfelt. The video stays true to the song and it’s good seeing Skateboard P and Kenna supporting also. VA still has reason to stand up as long as the Clipse are making music. That said, I can’t wait for Pusha T’s solo record on G.O.O.D Music.