Right Market, Wrong Vendor

Right Market, Wrong Vendor

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 15)

July 21, 2011

I can assure you dear reader that whatever fruits and provisions I have for sale is A-grade; is inspected and vetted so its consumption can be enjoyable.

I don’t know who among you have diabetes or high blood pressure so their fat, salt and sugar content are extremely low, thereby allowing you to season them to your taste and delight. But like anything else, there are those who will experience indigestion. They cannot handle “hard food.”

In this edition, Dr. Clarence Bayne took umbrage with some of my statements on community and leadership, and given their age, it is plain to see my words was stuck in his craw for a very long time.

Rather than display the intellectual acumen that goes with his learned status and logically dissect any one of my statements to prove my ineptitude and wrong-headedness, he launched a personal attack, exhibited the default position of a “standard seven” mentality.

I don’t know when Dr. Bayne achieved certification as a psychologist, but congratulations are in order. He diagnosed me as being “a turned off youth who did not benefit from a social and emotional development.”

What does the nature of one’s upbringing has to do with my condemnation of bankrupt leadership and calls for the transformational leadership, accountability of stewardship and transparency?

In impugning such an upbringing, as if it invalidates intelligence and voice, Dr. Bayne reveals his predilection to elitism and disdain to the environment so many of our people have, and unfortunately continue to  be socialised into, and to those folks themselves- people who are the salt of the earth and whom are always targeted for help.

While Dr. Bayne tags my space as of damned souls, he had no problems mining the same in his Aug. 26, 2010, column, “A Deeper Look At The Perils Of Our Community.” He says, “We drink the poison of serpents and kiss the hoof of the Golden Calf,” closes with “We are in the trap,” yet has the nerve to accuse me of “an out of body poetic rant.”

I have no time for obfuscation, intellectual masturbation, being disingenuous or sweet talk. I have no personal axe to grind in this space. The hydra-headed issues confronting our community preclude me from engaging in such pettiness. Extended months, possibly years of Winter is coming and our community is ill prepared for that “banga season.”

In this the United Nations designated “International Year for People of African Descent,” attacks against the race continue unabated, and not just in terms of racial profiling or exclusion.

The Los Angeles Times (07/08/11) carried the story of Michele Bachmann signing a pact that says among other things, African American children were better off during slavery than they are under the Obama administration. Bachmann is a Republican candidate running for the party’s presidential nominee.

Psychology Today had no qualms publishing (05/15/11) evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa piece of scientific racism, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?

The economic fortunes of Blacks continue to take a battering. Employment shortages make the race the last hired and first fired. Our businesses are hurting and we continue with the self-infliction of wounds.

I’m about engaged citizenship, community economical and political empowerment, racial elevation, pro-activeness, constructive critical thinking, analysis of the ways the community has been an enemy of itself, with the hope my musings and perchance elucidation would prompt new blood to step into the breach and provide the much needed bold and visionary leadership.

All the promoters of fetes at the recently concluded Carifiesta/Jamaica Day clash of festivities ended up with gaping holes in their pockets. Yet Dr. Bayne would rather I not assign blame to leadership and “those that have tried but fallen short of my standards.”

My standards are not arbitrary Dr. Bayne, but in line with the values espoused by civil society. Need I remind you of the parable of the ten virgins? Just as there is no room for the foolish, accolades are only meted out to those that achieve, not to those that tried.

How long have we been here? While each new wave of immigrants to Canada goes through a generation or two of discrimination, difficulties, issues of language, adjustment and social reorganization, they have all been able to extricate themselves and prosper. So, why are we still stuck in a time warp? I cannot award points for trying.

While we are here today not on our own strength, but on the backs of many who came before us, where are our griots, our authors, historians and filmmakers? Are there no cultural imperatives to document our stories so children not yet born can easily revisit our past?

In 2009, KOLA literary magazine celebrated their 20th-anniversary. The issue they produced I wouldn’t take for free, much more buy. It was poorly laid out, and in this day and age when desktop publishing makes it easy for one to put out a quality product. Up to now KOLA does not even have a website, so what does that say about its growth.

I’ve been a member of an All-Fours Club for the past six years. (I dropped out for two.) Its constitution was ignored (actually never made available). Rules magically appeared. Meetings were rare. One had to ask for a receipt. Financial statements were never made available, not even when there was an AGM.

We went out of town to play, hosted teams from out of town, and when we meet on Friday nights we have fun, and that, it appears, was all that matters. Why stay? To keep them honest and force a change in the culture.

That sort of self-sabotage and obliviousness to structures are played out in many of our organizations, hence my tone. My extrapolations are rooted in evidence and facts.

In February 2000, or thereabouts, Mayor Pierre Bourque and a delegation attended carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, ostensibly to get a feel so Carifiesta could be better appreciated, and quite possible properly funded. He then lost the election making it impossible for his administration to do anything for Carifiesta.

On account of the lack of vision, the Carifiesta leadership didn’t view the ex-mayor as an asset, someone on intimate terms with City Hall’s bureaucracy and who could advocate for them with the new management. They could’ve recruited him to be an advisor or a governor, as is possible under their Constitution.  There was absolutely no capitalization on his trip to Trinbago.

When we look at what Carifiesta has become, the blame must fall on its leadership and history of infighting. Still, Ruthven Licorish had no shame stating the City of Montreal sounded the death knell of Carifiesta.

It is under the present cadre of leadership watch including you Dr Bayne, that long established institutions like the Negro Community Center in Little Burgundy, the BCCQ and the Union United Church among others closed their doors. Yet, you sanctimoniously bristle over my comments.

Ownership imbues one with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Ownership of land and property empowers. We continue being witnesses to Israel and Palestinians locked in a deathly struggle over land.

While owners have the right to do what they want with their property, when ownership is tied to legacy and racial pride, selling such a property is looked upon as a betrayal of sorts. Case in point: Motown and B.E.T.

In this very paper Dr. Bayne, you threw out selling the Black Study Centre. “Rent rather than tie up scare resources in the maintaining of a physical building” you wrote. I won’t be mad at you. It has been a “white elephant” these umpteen years, so why not turn a failure into a profit.

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