A Place of Rage: Educational Documentaries

I stumbled on this Educational DVD ‘A Place of Rage’, watched the trailer with sweaty palms and heart beating excitedly; and went on to read the review A Place of Rage: Two Black Feminist Documentaries. This is one to share and support. I cannot wait to see it all.

Much to look forward to in the Fall, or as we say here across the pacific pond, Autumn. Besides, this review so is enticing I would not have needed the trailer or the write up to get all flustered at the prospect of learning; the title and contributors alone – Angela Davis, June Jordan and Alice Walker – is enough: ‘A Place of Rage’.

“This lyrical film begins the much needed exploration of the Afro-American women who sustained and inspired the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. By shining an intimate light on some of our best known artists / activists Parmar eloquently reveals the power and poetry of the hidden faces. Her film is a visual embrace of who black women really are .” – Jewelle Gomez

“I’ve been showing A Place of Rage in my classes on race, gender and sexuality in U.S. history for over a decade, and it always has a powerful impact.  Mingling the words and images of activist and scholar Angela Davis, poet June Jordan and writer Alice Walker, the film makes a powerful case for the central place of African American women in creating a broadly imagined social justice movement–the kind of movement we need now, as desperately as ever.” – Lisa Duggan, Professor, American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University (2010)

“A Place of Rage documents the lives and politics of three African-American women. Weaving a narrative of spiritual awakenings, political consciousness and poetry through powerful imagery of Angela Davis speaking, Alice Walker reading and June Jordan teaching, A Place of Rage works like a narrative poem. It takes is title from a statement from June Jordan where she tries to articulate how her poetry and her pedagogy emerges from a ‘place of rage’ and builds into some other kind of articulation. The film is moving in its quiet intensity and fascinating in its portrait of three powerful Black artists”. Judith Jack Halberstam, Professor of English, Gender Studies and American Studies and Ethnicity USC. (2010)

Updates will follow.


An Illusion of Choice: A story on Biodiversity, Camp David, and the Farmers

Diversity is integral to our global mental health. Biodiversity is critical for our survival. If we destroy THE most biodiverse and resource rich continent in the world by altering its ecosphere, we alter our collective future forever. We alter the course to progress for Africa forever. So, what does the G8 Summit held two weeks ago at Camp David, where President Obama met with private industry and African heads of state to launch the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition propose and how will it effect this?

It is said, this new alliance is a euphemism for monocultured, genetically modified crops and toxic agrochemicals aimed at helping poor farmers but which will invariably turn them into ‘debt slaves’ to the very corporations proposing to help them, while also successfully destroying Africa’s and ultimately our Global ecosphere for profit. Proposing GMOs in Africa  as a solution to enable Agricultural progress, with no way back, is a serious problem to consider, discuss and campaign about; especially when the people in whose name it is for are saying : “No” – click here.

I was 19 years old, when I first came across the name ‘Monsanto‘ in an issue on ‘Agent Orange‘, and then again in the 1998 dedicated edition from my favourite subscription ‘The Ecologist” called The Monsanto Files. I learnt much about their use of ‘Agent Orange’ , was educated on GMO seeding and so much more. Three years ago I started developing my own idea of a sustainable development plan where Agriculture as a socio-economic driver could be used as a powerful tool for progress in Africa. Agriculture was a core part of family life for many of our parents, so why was Africa starving in just one generation?

Production of Food after-all is a fundamental element of self-sufficiency, independence and a viable source of income. Many ended up flocking to Cities (now grossly over-crowded) abandoning agricultural life in search of a better means to feed their families because the governments had ‘forgotten’ to include them in any progressive plans to sustain or guarantee an agricultural future. Our governments lacked the foresight to invest in the farming communities. In fact, some willfully destroyed it (*cough* Mugabe); though not without help from the Colonial powers or Africa based Western farmers who were savvy enough to never teach the indigenous population large scale farming techniques or use of machinery whilst using their labour to harvest more profit and gain. No investment in the indigenous farming population or practices. A sad but very apparent by-product of Colonialism where the Imperialist devolution of power was in name but never in economic terms, forced or not. Though in fairness, it was the work of the expelled white Zimbabwean farmers in other regions in Africa which further coaleasced my Agriculture plan for  sustainable development.

So where in the illusion of choice: a the story of biodiversity, Camp David and the small African Farmer can we see the wood for the trees? Obama, the G8 and participants are looking at hard currency business transactions: nothing else. The ramifications are far greater than what is being glossed over and promoted as a ‘new Paradigm’ for partnership with Africa. If the summit at Camp David really aims to create a new paradigm, it would not involve further destroying: indigenous seeding, bio-diversity, natural eco-systems and ultimately the Agricultural sovereignty of Africans. It would create a partnership which strengthens African Agriculture; educates the set up in large-scale farming; establishing means to ensure intra-continental scalability (by this I mean Africa Feeds Africa); and holds accountable in its terms corrupt Corporation, Oligarchies and/or Governmental mismanagement (Nigeria and the Dangote supply monopoly on Rice, Sugar and Cement as an example) which in turn is fed back to the farmers in monetary terms, and improve their community directly – by this I mean to include issues affecting Women and Children.

Once we lose species, be it sea, animal or plant life, it is gone FOREVER. FOREVER. It is unfathomable for sure, but not out of the realm of reasonable thinking to understand. Nor can we continue in our collective arrogance and obstinance to assume it does not matter. It does. Or, that we will recover. We won’t. Certainly not as Mother Nature intended, with good reason, over millenias. A great deal more than we have been able to compile – we are still discovering the extent of the connections in our ecosphere, let alone biosphere – is largely still a study-in-progress. I watched a wonderful documentary last night on BBC2 called ‘Secrets of our Living Planet: Savannahs’ focussing on how Grasslands flourish across all the continents with their own intricate ecosphere connections, and explaining the need for Nitrogen rich soil as a common thread. What would agrochemicals do to this fragile ecosphere on one of the most biodiverse landmass on the planet? It is not an experiment, even one as curious as I, would like to find out the answer to.

Frankly, promoting what the ‘West’ know as an unacceptable equation on their own land in Africa, is a definite call to wake-up. Smell the indigenous plant roots and get moving to stop this proposal if GMOs are at play. Africans will be left dumbfounded, and monocultured in food production only to import ‘organic’ produce from the ‘Developed’ countries? The mind boggles and swiftly thinks of Africa’s oil-rich countries exporting their crude oil only to import petroleum produce because they do not / can not refine.

I am no expert but I do love Planet Earth and all its inhabitant species – Human, Animal, Plants, Sea and yet to be discovered Life alike. All of it. (Ok – some I love more than others). My bells start ringing when I see Monsanto, Pepisco and Kraft foods on the list of participant private companies. Your thoughts?Image

Dialogue for Africa?

I woke up with the words ‘organize’, ‘routine’ and ‘Libreville’.

Organize and routine were my action words for today. Libreville because there, begins the Dialogue for Action International Forum. Bringing together an “exceptional group of speakers and participants consisting of NGO leaders, academics and experts from the private and public sectors to identify and address the current global issues facing women today.”

I am excited about updates on this discussion; as I woke up early to ready for what would be coming through on Live Tweets throughout the day to “offer alternative ideas and nuanced voices…(and some feminist fyah to the discussions). *for us, by us* :-)”. Nonetheless, my monkey mind started swinging and I landed on a branch featuring a talk I had seen some months ago in my non-writing/blogging routine days. ‘African Fractals’ by Ron Eglash on TedTalks.

Why would this have anything to do with Libreville and the Dialogue for Action? I’m still connecting it but hear me out so far:

It makes me think of how Africa is selling itself short with so many unclaimed contributions to the world. It makes me think of how women sell themselves short because society is constructed to maintain it as so. It made me think of how, if change is to be effected for African women, it has to include and be lead by African Women; or the whole thing quickly becomes an 18th Century European export plaguing the 21st Century African mind or I rephrase, an 18th Century European attitude dictating to a 21st Century African debate.

Why I connect this lecture and the dialogue happening today is simply this: Education. And, understanding that any dialogue is an education partnership between those who want to have it, those in whose name we are having it, and those whose lives/communities we aim to benefit from having it. And breaking it down to its fractal points creates a network for change in approach, the direction of the debate, and a scalability in the movement not only for the indigenes but also its wider global community. It also spoke to me that perhaps The Dialogue for Africa is already in the blue print of  African Fractals, and the societal constructs indigenous to Africa; not those imported from Colonialism, or with the best intentions.

To want to Educate more women is to understand the local systems, and societal structures/challenges in which they live. Clearly. To want to educate more African women is to allow their voice to be heard in the dialogue. Surely. And this is from the girls singing for their equality and expressing in ways of their community, language, history and heritage in mathematics, science – tools to truly empower them that is their own. There is a fragile line to be walked here when we talk of : education on a continent where we battle with ‘light is right’ (and I’m talking skin bleaching); and the weave reigns supreme (and I’m talking false hair extensions here not the natural and magnificent hair braiding techniques of old.) Or, that an Entrepreneurs face is not one represented by a ‘Market Woman’ – I will expand more on this in time. But the point here is, ensure that the dialogue where Africans are involved, includes Africans – grassroots and all walks of life Africans. And for it to be one of dialogue between equals, or it will be no dialogue at all.