Monday, 25 February 2013

The Answer!

Blessings to all! It’s been 2 weeks since my last post and I have a lot to share. I hope all is well with you and yours and that you took to the time to catch up on some my posts that you might not have read previously or even review previous post for clarity.

I initially took a week off of posting due to my birthday and since then I’ve been on the go with various projects and programs. So I wasn’t neglecting you and have not grown tired of sharing with you.

I’ve been teaching and doing some public speaking simultaneously! Phew! Now those are two things that I said that I never wanted to do in life, but here I am in the thick of it! As a child I recognized that teaching is a hard job! To take on the responsibility of instilling information correctly in a person’s mind is a huge to do! I didn’t think I would have the patience for it. And speaking in public, forget about it! In the past I’ve referred myself to Moses; you know the story. He was slow of speech or so he thought and if I recall had a slight stammering problem. He was so uncomfortable that he argued and pleaded with GOD to choose someone else to go before Pharaoh. That’s how his brother Aaron got into the picture.

I’m not slow of speech, but I’ve been known to stammer and be at a loss for the word or words I’m looking for while I’m speaking. Funny how GOD calls you to things that you don’t think you’re qualified for. I’m thankful that HE qualifies me!    

I was the featured resource person/teacher/speaker at a workshop on customer service for 3 companies here in Gambia. Poor customer service is a problem most places these days and training in this area is a necessity. Woo woo, I’m so grateful to sister friend here that referred me for this gig!  

Next I was the featured speaker of the, United States Embassy of Banjul “Speakers Series” for Black History month; the topic, “African Heritage and Racial Harmony”. What a joy to teach and motivate my Gambian brothers and sisters about the importance of their African Heritage as well as some African American History, I also got a chance to teach them about me, my purpose and about, It’s Nice To Be Nice (INTBN) International, my organization. 

So many people, most in fact think that because I’m an African American that I’m rich and when you combine it with the fact that I have a self supported organization they really think the gravy train has arrived. Hahahaha! That is so far from the truth it makes me laugh! You only need to have a heart, to care, to open up yourself, give yourself and let GOD use you! You don’t have to worry about the resources as long as you do for others HE’ll provide the resources. I’m testifying to what I know because it’s what HE has shown me. I’m still amazed that I do what I do!

Ok, now that I’ve brought you up to speed on what I’ve been doing since I’ve been away from you let’s pick up from where we left off at with the answer.

You remember right!? What was I going to do once I had the surgery and recovered from my right hip replacement, go back to Gambia or stay in Chicago?  Well you should’ve been able to guess the answer yourself. 

It was 2008 and the 2nd African American candidate in history was running for US President so I had to be in the states to take part and be a part of this historical and Earth shaking event. But after the elections I was most definitely going back to Africa! GOD had opened a door for me and it was no way I was going to turn my back on that! 

Monday, 11 February 2013

I know the answer!

Thanks for joining me again! This journey wouldn’t be the same without the people that I have encountered along the way. I consider us, you and me the people that read my blog as chance encounters as well. I didn’t plan to be here in Gambia, I didn’t plan to write a blog and you hadn’t plan to read or start reading a blog by this chick right here, but here we are. I think it’s beautiful and I hope you do too.

Yes, GOD does have the answer, but I tell you I continue to pray for discernment so I understand the difference from HIS answer and what I’m telling myself. Maybe I’m looking for a revelation instead of an answer, but that is what I’m meditating on now. Then I really was looking for the answer about what was I going to do after my recovery: Chicago or Gambia, Gambia or Chicago?

I didn’t have time to listen or see if the answer was there because of the drama that was going on around me. Oh my goodness, I’ve been through and done some things in my life, but the next few months were deep. I couldn’t find space, not even space within me due to the all noise I could hear and the emotional noise I could feel. No mother should have to watch their child or children hurt mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Watch them suffer and subject themselves to such suffering.

No matter what kind of pain or situation I was in I could not and was not going to let myself be disrespected and abused. It’s something else how people that are abused tend to abuse others. Maybe that’s what makes me so sensitive. I know what it feels like to be hurt on different levels. Mentally emotionally, spiritually and physically pain, yes I’ve been there. Thank GOD I’ve been there, if not for there I could not be here and here is a good place and I’m referring to my being, my person.

When did it become acceptable in society for children at any age to disrespect their parents or any elder for that matter? I could never think of or do such a thing. My mother and I did not have the best relationship and she made some choices for me that caused severe repercussions in my life, but please. I respected her because she was my mother, had nothing to do if she was right or wrong, lying or telling the truth, she was my mother. Oh yeah, I thought a whole bunch of stuff and said a heap of this and that under my breath, but I wasn’t opening my mouth to hurt or disrespect her. 

Anyway the decision I needed to make then was where was I going to move to when, not if, but when I left my daughters place. I knew she needed me for more reasons than one, but she was drowning and I couldn’t save her. She was fighting the water and not taking hold of any of the life preservers being offered to her. The hardest part would be leaving my Puddie and she needed me too, but I knew my limits in every aspect. 

I needed my head to be right for surgery. I had gotten approval in the mail for my insurance and the approval for the surgery as well. The light at the end of the tunnel was getting a little closer! I called the orthopedic surgeon and made an appointment so the surgery could be scheduled and I could start getting my pre-op labs and test. Woooo hoooooo! 

Easter Sunday 2008, I week before surgery I had taken all I could take without continuing to die inside. I called a girlfriend of mine and asked if I could stay with her and she came and got me the next day.
I also knew what I was going to do when I recovered. Chicago or Gambia?

By the way, I will not be posting Friday, it's my birthday! Though I'd to spend it with you I know you'll understand why I'll be MIA.

Take care  GOD bless you and I'll be back nex t Monday by GOD's will.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Got to have some drums!

This post on West African Instruments, particularly from the region I’m is strictly for the drum line! I posted previously on the Djembe that everyone is so familiar with, but you got to have some bass. Ever wondered where the bass drum comes from?  Well sit back and check this out and oh yeah, the last drum on this post is called the, “African Telephone”. No, I’m not talking about the drum they call the, “talking drum”. Hold on you’ll see.

Let’s get to shaking……

Djun-djun  (translation – low drum) is the generic name for a family of bass drums that developed in West Africa. Along with the Djembe, the Djun-.Djun (pronounced Joon- Joon although I know some people that call it Doon-Doon) originated in the ninth century Mali Empire among the Mandinka people. Primarily of the region that includes Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, which all have significant Mandé populations. The Djun-Djun is actually a set of three drums

This is just an aside; if you’re keeping up with current events you must have noticed what is going on in Mali. And if you’re keeping up with my post you should’ve noticed that most of these instruments have there beginnings in Mali. What a horrible thing that people that are not from Mali or Africa for that matter are destroying Malian History, forbidding the playing of music and trying to destroy a beautiful culture. Shame on them! Musicians themselves have joined in the fighting to preserve their art, their culture, their history even more so than their lives. OK, I’m off the soapbox. Let’s go on, phew, makes you want to holler!

Each Djun-Djun is made out of the base of a tree then covered on both sides with cow skin (or sometimes goat skin) that is held on with rope or steel rings. This family of double-headed, cylindrical, rope-tension drums consists of the Dundoumba (literally “big Djun-Djun”), which has the lowest tone and is the largest in the series. Next is the mid-tone, medium-sized Sangban and lastly, the high-toned Kenkeni, which is also the smallest. 

Djun-Djuns provide the rhythmic base for the Djembe. There are wide variations on how the Djun-Djun is played throughout West Africa. For example, in Mali they sometimes play with just one Djun-Djun and a bell (Kenken) that is held in the hand. In some regions of Guinea the Djun-Djun is played with no bells, or only two Djun-Djun are played.

There are two primary playing styles for Djun-Djuns. The traditional style has each player using a single drum resting on its side, either on the floor or on a stand. Each player strikes the head with a stick held in one hand and a bell mounted on top with the other. For the other style, known as ballet style as it is used in the National Ballets throughout West Africa, one or more players has command of their own set of three Djun-Djuns standing on the floor. Playing like this allows a more complex arrangement for the dance. A Djun-Djun player is called a Djundjunfola or "one who gives voice to the Djun-Djun." The Djun-Djun, precursor to the bass drum another African Original!

Lastly we have the Kirin is sometimes called the “African telephone” as its distinctive sound can be heard over great distances, and is used to communicate between villages. The Kirin is also said to be a means of communicating with Susu ancestors.

 The Kirin is a slit-log drum, which originated in Basse-Guinée by the Susu tribe and is literally a hollowed-out log. Two slits are cut along the top of the log, and the different thicknesses of these strips create different tones when struck by a pair of wooden sticks. 
While some Kirin are simple in design, others are elaborately carved. They also come in a variety of sizes, from 10” in length upwards - Large kirin can be carved out of entire tree trunks. The larger the log, the louder the sound it creates.

Have a blessed weekend and by GOD's will I'll be back on Monday so we can continue on the journey. Peace and Love!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Waiting on my answer!

Welcome back! I’ve missed sharing with you, even though I really don’t usually know what part of my journey or thoughts I’m going to share. I try to let my heart, my spirit move me when I write so that it’s not contrived. That way you get the real thing! Fresh squeezed juice and not from concentrate! Oops, there I go again, the Victoria’s African Proverbs! Hahahahaha, I tickle myself with them!

I’m going pick up at the question I asked from my last post: What Would You Do? The question I was asking myself while I was waiting to have surgery on my right leg was: would I, should I return to Africa once I had recovered. 

The only thing I knew and know for sure is that I’m not a quitter! I think it’s a difficult thing to do, to quit. It’s easier to keep going than to give up, but then again when do you back away from something? When is enough, enough? Hmmm, Selah!

I thought I had left a program functioning in Africa only to find out that my frenemy had stolen the project. She told me some one was interesting in funding the project and to send her the proposal and guidelines. She didn’t know all the ins an outs of my C.A.R.E. Project even though she was there and I made her a part of it. What she actually did was take the proposal and started her own organization with my proposal and something I had started. She’s a trip! And I even found out later that she had been in my house here in Africa and took documents that gave the organization liberty to receive items here duty free because of It’s Nice To Be Nice’s charitable status. I tell you, some people. That’s OK; GOD will take care of all that.

The C.A.R.E. Project was started by me in 2004 when I met young girls here I supported in school. I’ve since closed the project and have turned my focus to adult females. The women here work so hard, more than the men. I mean hard at everything, farming, produce sellers, domestic workers, whatever! And so many of them are hungry for information and that’s what It’s Nice To Be Nice (INTBN) International supplies So I’m glad GOD made this change in focus for me. When the idea hit me it was like the light bulb you see in cartoons appeared over my head. I think I heard my spirit say, “That’s it, now you’ve got it”!

Even though the project was now out of my hands I knew that the families were still connected to me and would want to see me, but even more so for my family in the states. It just felt unfinished, this part of my journey in Africa that GOD had me on. But now with time on my hands and the ability to choose to go or not to go I didn’t know, but I knew. I hope you understand that. As I get older I’m less likely to do the things I did when I was younger. For instance, I don’t ride roller coasters or motorcycle anymore. I guess now it just seems to risky for me. Weird, huh!? Yet I’m still willing to travel here and there alone.

It was hard to say what I was going to do since there was so much I wanted to do. Shoot, I wanted to enjoy Chicago. I had missed so many things I enjoyed doing there with its diversity. Poetry sets, reggae, jazz and blues clubs, festivals, 63rd Street Beach in the summer, whew, I could go on. And I really missed being able to travel frequently to the Caribbean especially Nassau, Bahamas! Oooooh weeee, Nassau was my spot! I had and have so many good friends that are like family there. I missed exploring a new island every year. Fun, excitement! I missed living in an apartment by the lake, geez!

What was I going to do! All I knew to do was pray and ask GOD if this is truly what you would have me do please let me know so I can follow YOU and not expect HIM to follow me to pick me up once I fell.

So I waited for my answer while enjoyed helping raise my new grand daughter. Pure joy and love! I call her Puddie, short for old timers saying in broken English, “Dat’s sho a puddie baby”! 
My Puddie!