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.

Quo Vadis Carifiesta?

Quo Vadis Carifiesta?

By N Oji Mzilikazi

 

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 14)

July 7, 2011

On March 13, 2011, the City of Montreal handed the Carifiesta Carnival Parade mandate to the CCFA- Caribbean Cultural Festivities Association, rather than the MCDF- Montreal Carnival Development Foundation, ending the wrangling that resulted in its cancellation of the 2010 Parade.

Carnival was back on. The Community was happy as pappy. Die-hard revellers couldn’t wait to get on “wotless”– shake off Winter’s dreariness, as well as the drudgery, privations and frustrations that qualify the lives of many in our Community.

Carifiesta, for all its marginalization by the City of Montreal, reconnection to West Indian cultural patrimony, expressions of ingenuity and creativity, freedom from a certain amount of constraints like body image as an example, was catharsis; therapy.

In addition, Carifiesta is a revenue generating machine for the City. Something that the City, judging from its history with the festival does not care about, and to which successive Carnival administrations have failed to advance and exploit in order for the festival to obtain substantial increase in its funding, present a superb product, and have the respect it deserves.

There was no Montreal International Jazz Festival, Montreal Gay Parade or even a Canada Day Parade in Montreal when Carifiesta was launched.

July 9th, 2011 marks Carifiesta’s thirty-seventh (37) birthday, yet the festival continues to be a top spinning in mud.

While expectations are that the new management of CCFA will get the job done, the scars of ineptitude and lack of vision by past Carnival organisers are so deep that CCFA faces a steep uphill climb. That is further compounded as the City feels it is doing our Community a favour in allowing us Carifiesta.

CCFA is on probation with this parade. They must do it right; have it running smoothly, and by inference, present a quality product in spite of the short notice (three and a half months) and consistent annual low funding- 30,000$.

Defenders of the paltry sum points to the hidden expense of security, clean-up and the loss of parking revenue on the route and so on, which run into hundreds of thousands of dollars as mitigating, but it’s all b.s.

The City has no problem bearing those same costs for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Gay Parade and so on. Additionally, it has no problem with the loss of parking revenue when it shuts down certain areas to traffic for playoff hockey or to facilitate pedestrian traffic in certain areas for the entire summer.

Nonetheless, it is that “hidden cost” Montreal City Hall Councillor Marcel Tremblay, the brother of our mayor Gerald Tremblay used in 2005, as an excuse to question the relevance of Carifiesta, as detailed in “Fail or Prevail? The Choice Is Yours” in the previous Community Contact.

The City also demanded that the CCFA inform both residents and businesses along the parade route of the parade. This was a first. Anyhow it’s sliced; it cuts into the operational budget of the CCFA both in terms of manpower and finance, and given its budget…

Such a demand shows the contempt to which the City holds Carifiesta. By virtue of its office, the City has the machinery and money to make light work of that task. It’s akin to CCFA telling businesses, “Be prepared for an infusion of cash from Blacks,” but without reciprocity. The politics and attitude of City Hall to Carifiesta is obvious to the discerning.

Regardless as to what part of the world they are held, Carnivals are a tourist attraction and a generator of huge revenues. City administrations/government and businesses gladly invest for the economic benefits to merchants, restaurateurs and hoteliers among others and themselves is worth it.

According to our very own Quebec Winter Carnival website, its 2009 operating budget was $8.6 million and it resulted in “direct economic repercussions of $48 million.”

In 2005, the Ontario government invested $400,000 in Caribana and the City of Toronto $384,000. In 2009, the Federal government invested $415,000 into Caribana. The Ipsos Reid Economic Impact Study of Caribana 2009, released in April 2010, revealed it injected $438 million into Ontario’s economy.

The City of Montreal 30,000$ must be seen in the light of stinginess, and they not giving a damn about the festivity. Perchance because it emanates from Black hands and they believe they don’t need it because their economic cup floweth over from the City’s International Jazz Festival.

There was a time when the Carifiesta parade brought close to a million visitors to Montreal. People came from American cities like New York, Washington, Virginia, Boston, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, as well as from the Caribbean for the occasion. With Ottawa and Toronto just down the 401, thousands upon thousands of Ontarians with or without West Indian or Montreal roots descended upon our fair city.

Since the hotels downtown were filled by tourists coming for the jazz festival, all the motels on Rue St. Jacques were filled by Black tourists coming to town for the carnival.

Until its demolition and replacement with a Canadian Tire outlet, all the rooms in Belvedere Motel on Rue St. Jacques were annually reserved for the carnival weekend by Hawks International, a social club whose headquarters is in New York.

Montreal has no Black area or a Black neighbourhood. The Carifiesta Parade is not held in the vicinity where there are Black, Caribbean/West Indian or African merchants. White businesses remain the primary beneficiary of the expenditure of Blacks during Carifiesta. No merchant along the parade route is ever going to refuse a dollar from the Black consumer. Yet, as referenced in the last issue, Councillor Marcel Tremblay had no qualms stating, “No one wants us.”

Encounter with a racist mindset is not foreign to the black experience. People of African descent have long recognised that some would prefer us to disappear than embrace us. However, the State has a moral authority to be fair to its citizenry irrespective to skin pigmentation, religion or sexual orientation.

Rather than making “no one wants us” a card of trumps, so the City was doing the Community a favour, the councillor, as representing City Hall, ought to oppose any who seek to exclude Blacks from participating fully in the society. After all, Blacks have been in Quebec since 1406. Once again, leadership failed to put a knife to such a deserving throat.

On July 25, 2005, Mayor Gerald Tremblay and his wife Suzanne snipped the ribbon to kick off the Gay Pride Parade. In blessing the event, the mayor sported a VIQ badge – “Very Important Queer badge.” I can’t ever remember him showing any such solidarity or love to Carifiesta.

While St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the oldest street parade in the province, and is culturally important to the Irish, it does not bring tourism to the city or pump additional revenue into its coffers the way Carifiesta does.

Every major city has more or less their St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As such, that of Montreal depends entirely on the support from locals. Sure, its spectators are going to indulge in a couple of pints and Irish pubs are going to make some extra cash, but it’s a pittance compared to the overall boost to the economy that Carifiesta brings.

So in spite of Carifiesta outstripping St. Patrick’s Day in terms of financial contribution to the economy and attendance, there is a great divide in the way both festivals are treated by City Hall.

For starters, the Irish are given royal treatment. The City of Montreal paints its main thoroughfare green for their parade while Carifiesta’s route is on one side-street or another.

The City never saw fit to gage the economic impact of Carifiesta because they do not care for it. Sadly, the failure of leadership to make the economic impact of Carifiesta matter, to solicit corporate/private sector sponsorship, seek funding from Quebec’s Tourist Ministry as it brings tourists to the province, and to sell Carifiesta as part of the tapestry that makes citizens with Caribbean roots proud to be Quebecers and Canadians, have us in the current mess.

Carifiesta has within itself the potential to become a cultural and economic powerhouse for the Community. CCFA can only take us out of this morass if they’re willing to hire a worthy development consultant, or have a consultation committee to engage in brainstorming, strategic planning, to advise, inform and formulate sound business policies, and is given 100 per cent community support.

I have long been an advocate of rebooting Carifiesta to make it better and financially viable as evidenced by the Community Contact Volume 1, Number 11 May 1993, article, “Plain Talk Bad Manners: Suspend Carifete.”

In the article I decried the 35,000$ funding, felt that the two months notice given for its staging by the City was an insult. It undermined having a professionally executed and successful festival, and described the Carifete Committee as co-conspirators to ensure we remain an invisible minority.

The 2010 suspension of Carifiesta and the court case between CCFA and MCDF placed retooling the festival in limbo. It’s a shame that after three decades Carifiesta is still in diapers. My hope is that the CCFA does not turn out to be “old wine in new bottles,” but who we were waiting on.

It pains to see Carifiesta and Jamaica Day on the same day. But as Ms. Emmanuella Borgella, CCFA’s vice-president explained, the organisation was first given July 2nd, and then the City changed it to the 9th. In the spirit of cooperation they were cross-promoting Jamaica Day as well- attend Carifiesta then go to Jamaica Day. That being said, Happy Carnival!

Fail or Prevail? The Choice Is Yours

Fail or Prevail? The Choice Is Yours

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 13)

June 23, 2011


Sometimes I feel like
Throwing my hands up in the air
Sometimes I feel like saying
Lord I just don’t care
But you’ve got the love I need
To see me through.

The Source ft. Candi Staton – You Got The Love

Lately, I’ve been encountering folks close to the edge, verily on the verge of losing faith. I’m talking about ordinary people contended to be merely the Indians as opposed to being chiefs. They aren’t heroes. Don’t even want to be.

In fact, they’ll be the first to hightail it if or when things get outta hand. They are the people who go say dey eh see, but is the first ones to talk ’bout what dey aint see. Dey so mauvais-langue, sometimes ah man does have to ask dem if dey have court clothes. Whey yuh go do? Yuh cah get vex with dem. Actually yuh could, but I cah get vex. Dem is my people.

Dey happy to be rum-shop politicians. A lil drink in their head, and they can analyse and solve all the problems in the world. As de old folks does say, “Sense make before book.” “If yuh give Jim he gym boots and Jack he jacket, yuh must give Bagwansingh he bag.” So while no big highfalutin words does come out ah deh mouth, just plenty cuss, one has to respect the sense dey does make when dey making sense. And right now dey making plenty sense.

They feel betrayed, and by everybody. They expect their betters – those who went to “grammar” school and “big” school and have title and position to their name would do a better job in protecting and serving the community.

As much as I try to explain to them, that as ideal as those things are, the bottom line is reality and human nature can play havoc with principles, honour and integrity. People are by nature selfish and greedy, and when the complexity and politics of leadership meets greed, ideological backwardness and political blindness, pure ineffectiveness and commess is the result, dey doh get it.

I can empathise with them. God knows I’ve been down the road of frustration and bitterness over community apathy and traitorous leadership many times. Have thrown my hands up, but lucky me, blind faith in faith and a cultivated philosophical foundation have repeatedly pulled me away from the brink of darkness and despair.

Still, that “saving grace” didn’t mollify the sense that “we still eh ready yet.” Consider Jamaica Day, Carifiesta and our Steelband festival all on the same day this year, and both Jamaica Day and the pan jamboree in Parc Jean Drapeau.

On Wednesday, July 13, 2005, I watched Montreal City Hall Councillor Marcel Tremblay, the mayor’s brother on the evening news.  He stated that the $200,000 spent on Carifiesta in terms of police security, securing the parade route, clean up and so on was not worth the five hours of parade.

Continuing, he suggested moving the parade to Parc Jean Drapeau on Ile St Helene. And as if he was doing our community a favour with the proposal, he said that nobody, not even the Old Port wanted the 40,000 (Black) people that the parade attracts.

It is not today City Hall has plans about finding ways and means to contain its Black/West Indian citizens. Look at “Trinidad Day” at Angrignon Park. For the past few years, fencing have attendees kettled like cattle, so in the event of anything, the venue can be sealed shut with everyone inside. Drinking alcohol is restricted to the bar area.

There is no kettling at the Jazz Festival. One could walk anywhere on site with their alcohol. Parc Jean Drapeau affords kittling in that there is only way in and out of Ile St Helene. Its metro can be shut down to avoid ‘escape.”

Beyond that, except for Les Fêtes Créoles Internationales de Montréal, and Festival International du Merengue de Montréal at Parc Jean Drapeau, all Caribbean/Black festival at the 2005 Intercultural Festival was a flop, both in terms of attendance and community business. I’m talking about Jamaica Day, Barbados Day, the two-day Soca festival, and the Eastern Caribbean Day. So what would propel Jamaica Day to return to that site?

For as long as I can remember, the Steel Band Festival was held in Émilie Gamelin Park aka Berri Square. The beauty of the location is that passersby, both on foot or in their cars who had no inkling of what was taking place would find themselves dawn to the beautiful music. By moving it to Parc Jean Drapeau, only steel pan enthusiasts would go to the venue. So what would propel its organisers to accept that location? Factor in Carifiesta is on the same day.

Fans of Carifiesta are also fans of reggae and Jamaica Day. Carifiesta and Jamaica Day also allow community party promoters and community businesses to make money on both days. A small Black community, major soca and reggae activities on the same day… what a bam bam!

Is leadership so thankful for the $2 City Hall sends their way, they are afraid to say no, mount logical, moral and perhaps legal arguments and objections?

To be continued.

Cannibalization In Maturity

Cannibalization In Maturity

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 12)

June 10, 2011

The sage Lao Tzu declared, “When things reach maturity, they decay of themselves. Thus a fruit ripen on a vine or tree will fall, ostensibly to die. History proves Lao Tzu’s observation to be true. Civilization, empires and societies attained a level of greatness, and poof! In one fell swoop or agonizing crawl they were no more; consigned to the dustbins of olden times and workplace for archaeologist.

The biblical Tower of Babel tells of man, clearly in a technological or advanced state building a structure to reach God. For such impertinence, God confounds man. Lost was the commonality of language and singleness of purpose. Individualism took root, and the selfishness and self-centeredness associated with that state resulted in everyone speaking a different language, leaving the ambitious project incomplete.

That biblical tale encapsulates the devolution that takes place upon reaching the pinnacle of evolution- the cannibalization that occurs in maturity. A dance that continues to be played out in a multitude of ways, and which oftentimes escapes our observation.

Consider a person coming from nothing, and who though hard work, perseverance or luck was able to build something of worth. Decades later, inheritors who never knew a day of hard work or the meaning of privations are in charge. Ignorant or uncaring about the sacrifices it took to establish their inheritance, their attitudes and values wrecks and destroys what their forbearers clawed, struggled and fought for to build and defend.

Better yet, consider the many in our community who came here as immigrants or whose parents and or family members pooled their meagre resources, took bank loans, borrowed from friends to send them abroad to study or for a better life.

Years later, they are established and or enjoying relatively comfortable living. Caught up in life’s ease, either they or their children failed to transmit their knowledge and values that got them to where they are. The end result is their children or grandchildren being handicapped, underperforming and underachieving, and having no concept of honour, loyalty, fealty, duty to family and community.

I once read that to indulge in a life of pleasure/debauchery, and to avoid serving in the army, the sons of Roman nobles would have their right thumbs amputated. The inability to hold a sword or use the bow and arrow meant in the face of barbarians, they couldn’t contribute to any defence whatsoever. They were thus liability and subject to be easy casualties.

Technology has made life and living so much easier that ease could be equated to being a deadly disease, and our “advanced” society casualties.

Cooking as in preparing food from scratch is increasing becoming a dying skill. We eat frozen, out of a box, in restaurants and at fast food joints; their commercially and chemically laced food changing our metabolism, damaging and destabilising our bodies. Then there is wonderment about the huge increase in obesity rates. To obfuscate, scientists indebted to Big Pharma and the food industry points to the existence of a “fat gene.”

To display cultural sophistication, many who grew up with knowledge of “bush”/aryurvedic medicine traded it in for scientific remedies. Yet, with 100 different things on pharmacy shelves for the common cold they complain about their inefficacy. They are quick to recount how back home they could’ve used this herb or that concoction and in no time the cold was gone, or they would make a poultice for this or that. Meanwhile, they aren’t interested in passing their knowledge down.

For all the pleasure derived from watching television, playing video games on mobile devices and the like, the boon of the Internet, computer technology and social media, we have become more sedentary and socially inept. The engaging nature of the technology has us sitting in a chair for hours and with a huge “do not disturb” body language sign. The lack of activity and simple exercise like walking facilitates poor health and obesity.

While the facelessness of the web affords talkativeness with anyone in any part of the world, lost is the ease of face to face or group interaction, as well as participation in same. We can now work at home, study at home, form friendships online, meet, date and marry someone from an online encounter, even be murdered through it.

Corporate greed in exploiting natural resources and dismissive attitudes to environmental economics have brought us to the brink of a far-reaching ecological crisis. We now have threats to biodiversity, species on the verge of being extinct, and bodies of water we cannot drink, fish in or swim. With overpopulation overtaxing land, marine resources and electricity, the threat of serious food shortages and power outages hang like the Sword of Damocles.

Chemicals, pathogens and contaminants in the food supply have resulted in hormone disrupting toxins in our bodies, the birth of new illnesses and diseases. Even as genetic research shows so much promise, solution, cures, and the only thing left to clone are humans, global warming and ice caps melting portends new dangers. Throw in the ongoing threat of terrorism and war, and mankind is on the verge of reset.

Thomas Mulcair & The Exercise of Racism

Thomas Mulcair & The Exercise of Racism

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 11, under the title “The Exercise Of Racism And Its Impact.)

May 26, 2011

On the heels of the best ever showing of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair, its deputy leader, stated on national television that he didn’t believe photos of a dead bin Laden existed. To hear such absolute nonsense falling from the lips of an experienced politician, former cabinet minister and a lawyer none the less, had to be a calculated power play; a step in supplanting Jack Layton as party’s leader.

When it comes to politics, its politricks include politicians making use of any opportunities to get their name in print, score points, and articulating positions they do not necessarily hold to be true, but which will find traction with the public or deliver votes.

Case in point: Ken Melman who ran President Bush 2004 re-election campaign, was the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and pushed the Bush administration’s drive for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In August 2010, he revealed he is gay and was working in support of same-sex marriage.

Mulcair had to be cognizant that the outlandishness of his assertion will be newsworthy, reported abroad, and since the NDP was now Canada’s official opposition party, voila!  Reversal to his political invisibility.

The insinuation from this political nobody was that President Obama was a liar, and he had the nerve to qualify his statement with, I don’t think from what I’ve heard…” What loop is he in? What connection could he possibly have in the Obama administration to know otherwise?

His statement was demeaning and disrespectful; especially considering the United States is Canada’s best friend, trading partner and closest ally. It is not something someone with leadership aspirations says about a “friend” or to sustain a valued relationship.

It was just as insulting as when Francoise Ducros, a senior aide of Prime Minister Jean Chretien referred to US President Bush in November 2002, as a moron, and when in November 2004, MP Carolyn Parrish stamped on an effigy of Bush on, “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” comedy show.

Mulcair deserves demotion, but this is Canada. Our talent pool is so limited that every Jack and Jill can easily win Juno and Gemini Awards or get their star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

In view of former Quebec premier, Honoré Mercier being Mulcair’s great-great grandfather and the NDP in Quebec gaining 58 new seats, Layton dare not and will not demote him. The party needs all their “stars.”

The passiveness of the mainstream press in regard to Mulcair’s statement ought to be noted. There was no real pressing.

What made Mulcair’s statement so unpalatable, was just a week prior, Obama had shut up Donald Trump and the “birthers” with the release of his full birth certificate. Their lie was finally put to rest, and here was one of our future political stars essentially pissing on Obama. I doubt he would’ve responded that way if Hillary or McClain was in the Oval Office.

Let us not fool ourselves. Race as a principle of ascription is well-entrenched. Being to the right of race and political populism are intricately entwined. Dumping on Blacks for political gain is common place. White privilege and white power are jealously guarded.

When Obama was considering a run at the White House, The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, declared (12/18/06), the hype surround Obama is worthy of “Hollywood, not for the serous business of running a country in troubled and dangerous times.” Therefore he should practice “statesmanship in the face of enormous temptation,” and not run just yet for the presidency. He should devote himself “to listening, learning and becoming the most effective senator for Illinois.”

When Claudel Toussaint, Haitian, the chairman of the PQ committee on ethno-cultural relations was nominated to contest the 2001 provincial by-election in the Mercier riding, Gazette columnist, Don Macpherson did a piece (02/07/01) calling him “PQ’s token ethnic.” When Yolande James was elected in Neligan riding, he described her as being Premier Charest hand puppet. (09/22/04)

“Token ethnic” and “hand puppet” are negatively charged words that eliminate persons taking into account worthiness and qualifications. They conjure the sense of charity when in fact those persons could represent voting blocks and be a boon to a political party or organization. Considering the dearth of people of African descent in Canadian politics, Macpherson’s articles cannot but be interpreted as…

The 2007 provincial elections forced Charest to trim his administration. He dropped Lawrence Bergman and Geoffrey Kelley, and appointed Yolande James, Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities. As if the sky was falling and a deluge of blackness threatened to overwhelm the Liberal Party, the racists were aghast.

The loss of Bergman and Kelley were positioned as a blow to the English community, and James appointment characterized as a betrayal to Anglophones. Allen Nutik, Jewish, declared the cabinet’s makeup was insulting to English-speaking voters, all “our” cabinet ministers were fired, and James is very young, a neophyte.

He launched Affiliation Quebec- a new political party for those dissatisfied (read angry white males) with the Liberal Party.

The Suburban and The Chronicle newspapers were awash with articles critical of James [Not Appearing In The Community Contact Published Article: and lamenting no Jews in cabinet.

So what if no Jew is on the Cabinet? The Jewish community has always been well represented at both the federal and provincial levels. It’s not the end of their world if one of their MNAs is without a portfolio. Must Charest keep salt on the table even if it has lost its savour?]

James is English, therefore Anglophone. As a cabinet minister, none could make the case that the Anglophone community, an ethnic or visible or a cultural community wasn’t being served. The hullabaloo about no Anglo minister was simply code.

[Not Appearing In The Community Contact Published Article: The unspoken is that with a Jewish person in the cabinet, the government gets one person wearing both a kippa and a hat; someone having their heart in the Jewish community and who could double as an English rights advocate.  Jews have been politically successful simultaneously wearing both head gears. James didn’t bring that duality.]

Racists are skilled at slight-of-hand. Thus, from the attack on James, being Anglophone, and a minister who is Anglophone was reserved for white males and synonymous with being an English rights advocate.  (It is to be noted that Macpherson continued to attack James in the Gazette at every opportunity.)

As long as the Caribbean/West Indian/Black/African Community continues to engage in somnambulism, it will continue being victimized, its interests seen of no importance, and the backs of our exemplars will not be guarded.

What does it takes to recognize we have no friends; that we stand alone?

Provincial and municipal elections aren’t too far off. In four years there will be federal elections. Political activism is needed now.

To Be Continued.

Canada Election Lessons For Blacks

Canada Election Lessons For Blacks

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact volume 21, #10)

May 12, 2011

America with a 12 per cent Black population elected Barack Obama a mixed-race/Black person as its president, showing among other things, unification under the Democratic Party ideology.

Here in Quebec, the Quebec Hellenic Congress sent a letter counselling its members who traditionally vote Liberal, not to vote for the Liberal Party in the Montreal riding of Laval-les-Îles because their candidate is not of Greek origin. They were further advised to support another candidate.

In other words, the politics of ethnicity trumped the political manifesto of the Liberal Party. The candidate in question, Karine Joizil, is Black- of Haitian descent, female, and a lawyer.

According to the Montreal Gazette, (May 2, 2011) the president of the Quebec Hellenic Congress said their stance was neither personal against Joizel, nor were they against the Liberals. They were against the decision to nominate her and how it was made.  Regardless as to his telling, their obscene and offensive position was about exploiting ethnicity and by extension race for political gain.

I’m not mad at them though. They are about community self-interest, something people of African descent and the Caribbean community ought to take note.

The response I’d like to see from Black leadership is a call to make our dollars our politics, and boycott all things Greek, especially their restaurants. It can be explained as nothing personal, just an effort towards recycling our dollars in our community.

Furthermore, in July 2006, Casa Grecque was fined $1million for tax fraud. 28 of 60 franchises pled guilty to filing false tax statements to the federal and provincial governments. Since taxes go towards paying for services and the like, responsible citizens ought not support business known to engage in tax fraud.

Whether Blacks do or don’t do, have a university education or not, the exercise of racism exists. People actively discriminate and practice racial inequality. Therefore, it behoves leadership to advocate our self-empowerment and to make sure our interests are always on the table.

Lest we forget: In July 2007, one week after the Federal Liberal Party leader, Stéphane Dion, nominated Jocelyn Coulon as its candidate from the upcoming by-election in Montreal’s Outremont riding, B’Nai Brith Canada asked him to remove Coulon because of his stance on Israel. Outremont is a Liberal stronghold with a Jewish population.

According to the 2001 Federal Census, Jews make up about 10 per cent of the Outremont riding. Consequently, B’Nai Brith request is akin to saying that the only person deserving of representing the area is one who has the interest of the 10 per cent, and it’s not in regards to Canadian needs and issues, but that of Israel.

In 2004, former Montreal MP, Yvon Charbonneau, was appointed Canada’s ambassador to UNESCO. The Conservative Party called upon the government to reconsider the decision for, “Charbonneau’s criticism of Israel in the past has offended many Canadians.” (Montreal Gazette, October 7, 2004)

Earlier this month, the City University of New York decided to bestow an honorary degree on Tony Kushner, a Jewish playwright. The honorary degree was vetoed by a pro-Israeli activist and trustee of the University, who accused Kushner of being anti-Israel. (UK Guardian, May 6, 2011)

As repeatedly played out in Canada, America and elsewhere, politicians (and others) are positioned to “eat the bread the devil kneads” if they don’t have the right Jewish/Israeli vision. All due to the power of their organisations, political machinery and financial investments towards ensuring their interests takes precedence.

On the other hand, people of African descent are always quick to show how nice and accommodating they are to others, and are unwilling to close ranks to advance community interests.

Despite the fact that the Black community has always been looked upon as dangerous, dysfunctional, given pariah status and left alone to fend for itself, leadership and prominent citizens act as if the race is going to get a better grades, and they increased political capital for showing how committed or supportive they are to the cause of others.

In December 2005, Representatives of the Black Coalition of Quebec, the Muslim Council of Montreal and the Indian community joined forces to denounce the kidnapping of four humanitarian workers in Iraq, and to criticize the backlash on Muslims for the acts of their fanatics.

Where were those organizations when Black Montrealers were being victimized and vilified prior to 9/11? Up until 9/11, the Muslim community, although comprised of Blacks as well, was invisible, identified and benefited from intelligent, hard working, peaceful and successful immigrant status.

In fact, Quebec was happy to bring in French speaking Muslim immigrants to boost its francophone population. Given all that has taken place with the Black community since that show of unity, I have yet to see reciprocity from the others whose cause Dan Phillip and the Black Coalition supported.

Palestinian and Jewish Unity, a Montreal-based human rights group launched a boycott of an Israeli made brand of shoes sold at a particular retailer. In January 2011, Marlene Jennings, Liberal MP for Notre Dame de Grâce-Lachine, and the first Black woman from Quebec to sit in the House of Commons as an MP, made it a point to go to the store to buy a pair of shoes, as is her right.

Conversely, I’ve never seen the distinguished MP, convene anything specifically towards Black community empowerment, and can’t remember the last time she lent her voice to any of our issues. Interestingly, after 14 years she lost her seat to a lesser known rival.

To Be Continued.

New Year Wish List For Our Community

New Year Wish List For Our Community

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact volume 20,#24)

December 16, 2010

Rebirth of a Central Organization:

Individual associations if island based or community oriented are limited issue organisations. Attending to the complex and multitudinous issues confronting/affecting our wide and diverse community limit their effectiveness and detract from their mandate. Furthermore, they have no real power to negotiate meaningfully with municipal authorities, the government and or private corporations. Therefore, it makes sense to have a strong central organisation.

The power of the collective ensures better access, better services and even better funding. Since blueprints already exist a la the Black Community Council of Quebec (BCCQ), my wish is for persons with influence and committed to community to initiate dialogue with others towards the rebuilding of a central organization.

A Report on Reports

In July 1992, the brightest minds from various organizations spent a weekend in Val Morin working out strategies and structure to best advance the interest of our community. Having obtained a copy of the document the conference produced, I can attest it is verily a blueprint for success, yet its implementation never materialised.  

In September 2005, Premier Charest mandated public consultations and task forces on the state of the province’s racial, ethnic and religious minorities towards their betterment. I don’t know whom, or what organization took the lead on ours, “The Full Participation of Black Communities in Québec Society,” but something is amiss when given our present circumstance, none can say to Premier Charest, “You promised instant action on recommendations from those task forces but x, y, and z hasn’t been implemented.”

Far too many things have been done to improve our community and in the name of community for us to be still treading water. My wish is for concerned community members to rise up and demand accountability. Our stewards past and present owe explanations. It is not a witch-hunt. Sins will be forgiven. We are in need of information and clarity so our next leaders won’t be fumbling or look like bumbling idiots, or be treated with disrespect by the City and others. My wish is for those involved in the two aforementioned processes to come forth in this newspaper or in a forum and enlighten us.

New Leadership

My wish is 2011 will bring a recommitment to community by its long serving members as well as new faces to the fore. Our community is in need of the service of those who are financially astute, intellectually brilliant and committed to its rejuvenation. These emerging leaders must commit themselves to the promotion of education, technical certification, fiscal responsibility, and economic empowerment, and they must be the morally courageous, fearless, respectful and of the highest integrity. Leaders who understand that selfishness, negativity, hopelessness and evil prosper when people lose faith, and people lose faith when leadership falls short of ideological expectations, is morally compromised, duplicitous, arrogant, abusive, and self-serving.

Happy Holidays to one and all!

Hereunder Is What Was Edited:

 

New Leadership

My wish is 2011 will bring a recommitment to community by its long serving members as well as new faces to the fore. Our community is in need of the financially astute, the intellectually brilliant, persons seriously committed to its rejuvenation, the promotion of education, technical certification, fiscal responsibility, economic empowerment, the morally courageous, fearless, respectful and persons with integrity. Leaders who understand that selfishness, negativity, hopelessness and evil prosper when people lose faith, and people lose faith when leadership falls short of ideological expectations, is morally compromised, duplicitous, arrogant, abusive, and self-serving.

Sorrel & Ginger Beer

Could one of our Ways and Means Committee give Bob White a medal so he could stop repeating ad nauseam about his storied past? His regurgitation has gotten past tiring. Given the frequent boasts by White of the success of his star pupil, it would be negligent of me not to question how come over the years, his bimonthly recalling of the barbershop crew’s every rant never included any analysis as to how his star pupil ended up incarcerated? Surely, lessons can be learned.

Given Ruthven Licorish past involvement in Carifiesta, his statement that the City sounded the death knell of Carifiesta (C.C. 2/12/10) is pure idiocy. The lack of visionary leadership and infighting by Carifiesta Boards past and present is to blame. The city isn’t responsible for our carnival plagued by the absence of sound business policies, mismanagement, winners of various competitions shorted, failure to execute post-mortems to produce a better and more successful product, accusations of theft, “bobol,” or “racheffy” not addressed by investigations and the hiring of a forensic account to find out “whey de money gone,” and prosecution of person(s) if funds were truly misappropriated. “No one plans to fail. People fail when there is no well-crafted, thought out plan.”

Happy Holidays to one and all!

The Killing of Fredy Villanueva

“The Killing of Fredy Villanueva:
Policing, Race Bias & Media Complicity in Canada”

Explores policing and race, the culture that gave rise to and supports it. The complicity of the mainstream media in sustaining the lack of accountability in those mandated to serve and protect, and how their failure to exhibit maturity and decency in being fair and impartial in reportage on visible minorities, specifically the Black community, and in catering to the fears, insecurities, and bigotry of the majority population have been contributors in the replication, moulding and support of racism and racial bias. The complicity of the legislature and judges in supporting a police culture of disorder and impunity while throwing the book at others, especially non-white minorities, and self-preserving techniques for people to best navigate interactions with the police.

“The Killing of Fredy Villanueva” is about deconstructing and confronting racism, a demand to a return of the old-fashioned law and order ideology of “to protect and serve,” equal and consistent enforcement and application of the law, procedural fairness, protection of human rights and civil liberties, and  healing and strengthening bonds of nationalism so the nation’s ethnically diverse citizenry can truly sing with pride, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

Table of Contents

Introduction:

Implicit in citizenship is membership willing to sacrifice life and limb in defence of nation. In that respect, African Canadians have a long history of being good citizens. People of African descent – freeborn, runaway slaves, and former slaves from the United States and France fought for the British Crown during the Canadian wars of 1780’s and 1812, gaining the moniker of Black Loyalists.

During World War II, Canada was one of the nations who recruited young men from the West Indies to fight for them. Ostensibly, to fight for a land they had never seen. Black West Indian youths in their prime, some not yet men, contributed to the war effort.

In April 2002, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, a Black Canadian soldier was killed in the Allied war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Suffice it to say, people of African descent have been shedding blood for Canada since the 1780’s. On the other hand, when it comes to reciprocity from the state and its institutions to allow African Canadians the unfettered benefits that go with being a citizen, a different politic emerges. The Black community is seen as outsiders, as having no roots in the society and no stake in its well-being and as a sort of internal enemy. As a result, Blacks continue to feel the sting of racism, discrimination, and marginalisation.

Chapter 1: The Killing of Fredy Villanueva

Is a brief overview of the 2008 shooting of Denis Meas and Jeffrey Sagor-Météllus, and the death of Fredy Villanueva by a police officer. All three Latino youths were unarmed. The chapter is framed against the jeremiad of police abuse against visible minorities and Aboriginals.

It is my contention that judging from the non-implementation of recommendations from the Bellemare Report 1 & 2 (1984 & 1988), Coroner’s Yarosky 1992, the Corbo Report of 1992, and the Malouf Report of 1994, in respect to the police and their interaction with visible minorities anyone hoping the inquest into Fredy’s death will bring clarity, resolutions or changes to the culture of policing are going to be sadly deluded unless…

Chapter 2: Policing & Race

Criminality exists in every community, society and country, and among every race, religion and ethnicity. Disproportionate number of criminals from any culture, race, religion or society is never an indictment of nationality, country, religion, race or ethnicity. Furthermore, no race is a unified biological population. As such, it is backwardness and dishonest to tar and feather an entire community on account of the few who commit crimes.

Yet, on account of the ideological philosophies in support of racism, that is exactly the vice-grip within which people of African descent find themselves.

Blacks are positioned as, and accepted as a racial monolith with a singular culture, to wit ingrained criminality, stigmatized and criminalised over the errant few, and victimized by a police culture of race-based policing – skin-colour being automatically a cause for suspicion in lieu of probable cause, and Black neighbourhoods detailed as zero tolerance and suppression zones.

Subscription to the criminalization of Blacks (and by extension certain non-white communities), and race-based policing is the source of law enforcement officers demonstrating a different code of behaviour and attitudes towards Blacks than the rest of the population.

Under greater scrutiny by police officers (and by extension private security guards), Blacks are subjected to frequent stops, being questioned and searched.

Oftentimes in the process, they encounter officers who do not see Blacks as citizens, deserving of common courtesy, civility, respect and most importantly, the presumption of innocence that has long been one of the cornerstones of the law. Consequently, those officers exhibit behaviours that are downright hostile, abusive, openly racist, and or would relentlessly assail or assault their dignity.

While law enforcement has consistently and steadfastly denied the existence of race based policing, documentation to Black officers admitting having racially profiled Black youth is provided, thereby supporting my case that racial profiling is endemic and an intrinsic aspect of Canadian policing.

In addition, to bolster my contention that racism thrives in law enforcement- that race bias is police culture; I’ve also provided evidence showing that Black police officers are themselves not immune from victimization and acts of racism by fellow white officers.

Chapter 3: Sentencing Disparity

Since the legacy of racist ideology is at the heart of the law and order machinery mobilized against Blacks, their is continued collusion between politicians, legislators, the police, judges and prosecutors to ensure people of African descent who fell afoul of the law feel its full weight.

As presented evidence show, judges are prone to impose longer sentences on Blacks than on whites, even when their crimes were of the same magnitude or of a lesser degree, and it was not unusual for Black juveniles to be tried as adults in order for them to receive a more severe punishment.

Chapter 4: Deconstructing Race Bias

Government policies, legislation and programs to combat racism have failed to have a bigger impact because white folks (and by extension Blacks) are trapped by complex historical, institutional and deep-rooted racist and cultural forces, and education to dismantle some of those foundation stones of anti-Black racism has been woeful to say the least.

While endless whites have repudiated racism and racist ideologies, a vast majority are so emotionally bound to race prejudice that they don’t care to or simply refuse to accept and institute equality on the social level. Hence the continued state of affairs. This chapter seeks to exorcise the devils of racist beliefs that arose out of the evils of slavery and its legacy of institutional racism.

Chapter 5: The Myth of the Lazy Negro

Given that Judeo-Christian doctrine espoused the view that Blacks are a people born to servitude, African enslavement was seen as unto perpetuity.

The life of a slave was one of constant labour. There were no holidays, vacation, age of retirement or a pension. The enslaved were worked to death and until death. Consequently, the application of “lazy” to Blacks was none other than a slander to hamstring the race, and was psychological punishment and retribution over the freedoms brought by Emancipation.

Emancipation threatened the economic survival of plantation economies as well as portended change to the racial and social dynamics of the society. It positioned the former slaves to earn wage. To determine what their labour was worth, to control, set its price, sell it to the highest bidder, work for self and the options of migration – freedom to move wherever and start a new life.

Chapter 6: Why Don’t Blacks Learn From Other Immigrants Trap

Giving the impression that people of African descent are anything but industrious, Blacks are routinely scolded. Oftentimes the telling is along the lines of taking a page out of the books of other immigrant communities and lifting themselves up by their own industriousness. While the advice appears to be sound and logical, it is misguided and emanates from ignorance.

Such a view conveniently ignores the roles of racism, discrimination, marginalisation and racial hatred in sabotaging the industriousness of people of African descent and keeping the race in the vice grip of poverty. It overlooks the deliberate underemployment of educated Blacks and those with professional qualifications/certification, and how white skin advantage enables other ethnic and immigrant communities an easier go at economic gains.

Furthermore, what is never exposed is that members of some immigrant communities are products of merchant/business and or criminal/mafia collectives in their own country, and thus invested in abroad with a resource pool that includes financing and expertise at their disposal.

Chapter 7: Media as an Instrument of Racism

While freedom of speech is worth defending, this chapter details how corporate owned media in Canada have constantly reinforced and reproduced racial bias in their newspapers, slant and colour stories that deal with race, cater to the bigotry of the majority population, use photo to highlight and imbue the crime with increased severity and inspire fear of the race to which the person(s) belongs, and the reliance of counterfeit images of Blacks in television commercials.

Bearing in mind that a society can only truly prosper when there is tolerance and respect to those who are ethnically, culturally and religiously different, such things perpetuate racism.

The overwhelming emphasis is on the Montreal Gazette, for excluding the short-lived Montreal Daily News that lasted less than two years, the Gazette has been the province only English daily newspaper for the past thirty years, ever since the closure of the Montreal Star in 1979.

With such marketplace monopoly, I’ve set out to show that the Gazette has repeatedly abrogated journalistic ethics of accurate and balanced reporting, opting to be a bastion of support for racial bias as well as being a running dog for the police, all to the detriment of Montreal’s Black community.

Chapter 8: Law & Disorder. Police as Thieves. The Culture of Impunity

Amidst the calls and implementation for stricter penalties to rein in crime and punish wrongdoers, this chapter documents how judges continue to be complicit in giving the criminals in law enforcement the lightest possible sentence, if ever it comes to that, and police ethics and disciplinary boards continue to exonerate officers or give them the lightest of slap on their wrist.  Such a state of affairs has justice in Canada operating with her eyes open and being of a multi-tier system. There is one standard of justice for the police, another for legislators, a different one for whites, and an even different one for Aboriginals and Blacks.

Chapter 9: The Politics of Containment

Exposes the collusion between Montreal’s City Hall and the police to contain Montreal’s non-white communities, police harassment to get Black youths into the system, and the usage of incivilities by Montreal’s police to oppress the community as well as generate revenue for the city.

Chapter 10: Economics of Crime and Punishment

Explains that as strange and sad as it is, on account of the inter-relatedness between crime, punishment and economics, crime is a necessary and much needed evil.

The infrastructure that surrounds crime and punishment is an employment bonanza. Tickets and fines put money into the State’s coffers thus police zealousness in issuing tickets.

City administrators, the justice system – prosecutors, judges, defence lawyers, clerks, bondsmen, prisons, ancillary and associated industries need crime and a constant prison population to maintain their employment.

Law enforcement is a business of knowing. As such, police in every city have files on every criminal organization, street gangs and the like, their leadership and who controls what area. They know who is doing dirt and the locations of drug dens and its dealers.

Chapter 11: How to Best Deal With The Police

Overwhelming documentary evidence attest to police officers benefitting from an ingrained culture of impunity. Its sanctification by the courts allows them to figuratively and literally get away with murder, brutality and oppressive conduct. As such, the police are the deadliest threat to the health, well-being and quality of life of Blacks and other non-white minorities. This chapter offers self-preserving techniques to best navigate interactions with the police.

Copyright © 2011 by N Oji Mzilikazi, All Rights Reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted (other than short excerpts for review purposes only) in any form: electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, online reproduction or recording without express written permission by N Oji Mzilikazi.

Drunk, I wasn’t Drinking (Poetry for the Strong Hearted)

Is an unpublished compilation of poems with a proactive stance and no holds barred attitude to the ongoing hydra-headed and elephantine social crisis: economic uncertainty, heightened anxiety, frayed nerves, disenchantment, resentment, anger, hate mongering and political timidity. It’s a call to fearlessness, sparking a fire under comfortable and complacent butts.

Foreword

We live in a time and culture of anti-intellectualism, moral laxity, declining civility, social indiscipline, where aggressiveness, vulgarity, crudity and hyper-sexuality have been normalised, and one has to be either crazy or drunk to openly speak truthfully on things.

Everyone knows crazy. The mouthing of crazy is ignored or dismissed as illogical. Intoxicated persons are known to say and do all manner of foolish things. More often than not, their verbal outbursts, verbal assaults and embarrassing acts are excused as they being out of it – as being temporarily crazy, and so exempt from recriminations. At the same time, there are “smart folks” who have no qualms assuming intoxication to capitalise on the free pass wrought by drunkenness.

Let me assure you dear reader, I am not crazy, and rarely do I imbibe intoxicating brew.  “Drunk, I Wasn’t Drinking, (Poetry for the Strong Hearted)” was conceptualized and crafted with total mental clarity and disdain for the culture of correctness and political docility, and I make no apologies for anyone offended by its bluntness.

The stakes are just too high to be pussyfooting around issues given the rise of political, community, ethnic and religious misleaders who exploit the illiterate masses, appeal to our base instincts, fears, bigotry, racial and religious intolerance, the wilful embrace, cultivation and spread of ignorance, the elevation of mediocrity, abandonment of vigilant parenting, mass migration of youths to gangs and incarceration, and the self-destructive culture of victimhood, self-oppressing and self-defeating behaviours.

Some Titles & Snippets

Letters to the Editor
Viewer Discretion Advised
The Labyrinth of Mystification
Academic Treachery
Groundation For Contemplation
Nudity, Violence, Course Language
An Apology to Woman
Woe Unto Woman
Cultural Pornification
Beauty the Beast
Toxic Mix of Palliatives
The Concrete Jungle
Posturing For Profits
Rum Shop Politics
Papa Bois, The Midnight Robber
Words of (dis) Honour
Elegy For The Family
Gang-Gamily: the New Family
Arrogance in Ignorance
Smart Sentencing
The Pierrot Granade

Plastics, Metals & Elastics

Like thousands of species,
Civilizations of numerous worlds,
Assimilated into the Hive of the Borg,
Star Trek’s fearsome invaders from the Delta Quadrant,
Dissolution of society’s long-held social template,
In the swirling vortex of technology’s slipstream,
And its reconstitution,
Artificial reality reconstruction
With the cult of celebrity the prime directive,
Is consuming, reducing, transforming humans,
From being executors of………..

Mrs. Skera

Time and illness, having carved, tattooed their
personalities unto her face and physique, have
transformed, actually reduced her into a generic
geriatric. Her quick-witted tongue that never
accepted foolishness for long had finally been
restrained, retrained to be patient and silent.
To be assertive was to incur victimization from
overworked, underpaid caregivers who see the
elderly with their loss of  autonomy and host
of health problems as…………………………

Cheap Dis & Dat Mart

Claiming economic imperatives-
Preserving domestic market share, competitiveness,
Entire industries, jobs outsourced,
Livelihood of millions to poor countries lost,
Solid, long-lasting, quality merchandise,
Healthy, well-off communities the cost,
Increase in drugs, alcohol addiction,
Hopelessness, gangs, crime, the spinoff…………..

Obfuscations of Academia

Education is now political machinery,
Schools victims of its bureaucracy,
Reputation, yearly progress, tenure of teachers,
More important than pedagogic edification,
Christian evangelists, social conservatives,
Demanding religious oversight,
Conservative, religious principles in education,
Imposing changes, rightwing views,
Historical revisionism, curriculum amendments,
Textbook revisions that impacts on science,
Enlightenment repealed………………..

Copyright © 2011 by N Oji  Mzilikazi, All Rights Reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted (other than short excerpts for review purposes only) in any form: electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, online reproduction or recording without express written permission by N Oji Mzilikazi.

The Journey of a Soul (Liberation Through Poetry)

Is an unpublished compilation of poetry that though borders on the personal, is simultaneously an exploration of the human experience, delving into matters of the heart; love, sex, relationships, faith and spirituality, joy, hope, pain, frustrations and pain with the hope of fortifying, uplifting and inspiring.

Introduction

Each person confronts life’s unveiling of the human experience: growth, the pursuit of love, intimate relationship, employment, wealth, status, joy, success, and the devastation wrought by the unexpected or circumstances beyond one’s control, failures, frustrations, pains and disappointments differently. In addition, a person’s moulding and center of being – their morals, values, character, integrity, and mental constitution oft determine how they fare in the face of challenges, adversity, temptations, social pressures, and in the navigation of life’s highs and lows.

Weaned on racial pride, integrity, honour, social consciousness, environmental awareness, self-defence, revolutionary philosophy, pan-Africanism, articulating and languaging voice, race and class issues, poetry saved my life on many occasions. Putting pen to paper allowed me to diffuse mountains of frustrations and anger from the continual psychological defacement, systemic and deliberate economic, educational, cultural and social inequities, injustice and discrimination wroth by racism, and refraining from the execution of dark deeds or seeking to blunt the pain by way of drugs or alcohol.

Writing allowed me to emerge with a little more strength, sanity, clarity, balance, patience, and rejuvenated to do battle. Furthermore, initiation and exposure to spiritual and religious philosophies profoundly affected the perspectives of my politics. I came to see revolutionary struggle as more than raging against the machine, but also striving for mastery over one’s mental and emotional self, as well as unifying or integrating the disparate elements of self. The infusion of spiritual awareness allowed both my politics and writings to breathe. 

“The Journey of a Soul (Liberation Through Poetry)” is rooted in social commentary, spiritual awareness and matters of the heart; love, sex and relationships. While it borders on the personal and explores themes extracted from the land of my birth, it taps into the joys, hopes, frustrations, experiences and disillusionment common to all, with a unique colour, lustre, vision, and perspective designed to uplift, fortify and inspire everyone who is struggling or aspiring to keep their heads above the water while trying to secure their piece of heaven in the mish-mash that is life.

The poems fall into the following categories:

The Obeah Chronicles
Love & Pain
Love Should Never Lie Trilogy
Canadia
Reflections In Water
Crab & Callaloo
Dancing In The Light
Revolution
Carnival In Nine Movements

 

Some Snippets

 

Love Should Never Lie Bleeding 

Love should never lie in agony,
Cursing and screaming.
Love should never lie bleeding,
Because Love no longer wants to give.
Love should never lie bleeding,
Because Love has changed.
Love should never lie bleeding,
Because Love has been rearranged.

Love should never ever be regretted,
But accepted as an honour,
An accomplishment,
In that particular time of our space.
For, to taste an emotion,
That transcends reason,
Deserves gratitude in being chosen,
For someone else; another, any other,
Could’ve been husband, wife, or lover.
In truth, the angel call Love……………… 

For The Lions Who Roared 

Time has muted their physical voice,
But until those
Who heard them speak, teach, preach,
Whose lives they shaped, influenced,
Pass through the door of the mighty slumber,
Into namelessness and facelessness, they live.
For their disciples still reminisce,
Can hear, recall, feel the passion, quietness,
Loudness…………………..

Friday Fright

As he came nearer,
there was an unconscious expulsion of air,
rapid palpitation of hearts, fear,
hisses intended to be inaudible to his ear.
At the group he stared,
a penetrating look that scared.
Who didn’t run, tried to make themselves invisible,
acted nonchalant to appear indecipherable.
From within our midst,
a quivering voice said, “Goodnight!”
Others mumbled, followed,
the salutation emoted in appeasement…..

Drums of Resistance

Unlike the tales of Anancy,
the powers of the drum are spoken of carefully,
reverently,
by those whose spiritual essence vibrates to its cadence,
energy.
Master drummers cause bodies to do more than just sway,
their rhythm entices, hypnotizes, transforms,
call souls to sessions happening miles away,
bring forth unseen forces……

The Umbilical Cord

I am both Sky and Earth in a vessel of skin,
Anchored by my umbilical cord,
Outside and within.
My umbilical cord is tied to the earth,
Buried under a tree in the land of my birth.
Salt, water, and sand are in my bones,
When waves…………………

The Madman

Childhood dreams assail me,
Running like a river,
Melting like ice.
Obstacles unifying, disappearing,
Making me laugh at the sky,
Of which I’m a part.
The wind blows,
Movements of freedom, illumination,
Its breath of energy
Penetrating viscerally,
Conjuring all manner of imagery,
Making me hungry.
Food being fuel,
I taste, gorge on little,
Enjoy much,
Hardly smiling, crying always,
Tears that isn’t real,
Just a physical manifestation,
Medication to soothe my eyes,
From looking at the sun…………..

The Journey Of A Soul

I’ve walked many paths,
Seeking freedom, understanding, truth,
Processing, dissecting philosophies,
Rearranging ideologies,
All towards forming
My heart and soul identity.
I’ve known joy,
Been friends with sorrow,
Stumbled countless times, fallen hard,
Stripped bare……………………..

Copyright © 2011 by N Oji  Mzilikazi, All Rights Reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted (other than short excerpts for review purposes only) in any form: electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, online reproduction or recording without express written permission by N Oji Mzilikazi.