Monday, 25 March 2013

Birth pains and cramps!

Blessed Holy Week to all! Even if you don’t observe or celebrate the significance of this week I want you still to be blessed. Thanks for joining me again!

Easter is a holiday that sneaks up on me; probably because it doesn’t have a fixed date. You know what I mean? Like Christmas, your birthday, the 4th of July and so forth.  It’s such an important Holiday to me and filled with many, many emotions. The 1st thing is such an overwhelming sense of gratitude and awe. Wow, it’s so humbling, what a marvelous thing He did for us.

Something else gets to me too about Easter. What does a bunny have to do with a painted egg and what does any of it have to do with the significance of this Holiday? Oh yeah, don’t forget the Easter Basket, huh, what!? And what about the new clothes, not to forget the Easter Bonnet. Mind you when I was a child I looked forward to these things. Anyway that’s enough of that, let us move on.

Yeah, like I was saying last Monday being here felt like being in a womb; a womb with a window to the world. I now understand why it’s called “Mama Africa”! Yes I know that some people call it that because so she gave birth to mankind, but it’s even more personal for me. I’ve grown and been stretched in so many areas. I’ve been tried, tested and have even felt some rejection, but it was all a part of the maturing in the womb process. I’ve discovered gifts that I’ve possessed all the time, just as a baby discovering its fingers for the 1st time. 

I’m not saying that I didn’t have any fears associated with returning this time, because I did, but I had to let my faith do the work. You know if you stick your hand in the fire and get burned you don't stick you hand in fire again. And as far as I was concerned I had been burned in Africa more than once.  

None of that mattered because I knew there was something for me on the other side of the Atlantic! I could feel it calling me and I knew it was the voice of my destiny. If I had of chosen to stay in the states I would not have started my literacy program for women! What a blessing I would’ve missed out on. Check it out, if I would’ve stayed in the states I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog!

I so appreciate being here! I’m thankful for this blessed opportunity and have not taken it for granted. Nothing but GOD! I didn’t plan this, but I desired it before I knew it could be. But I feel as though the womb that holds me is starting to have birth pains. I’m stretching without enough room to stretch my legs and my arms are feeling cramped. This feeling excites me yet makes me feel sad.  Here in the arms of “Mama Africa” is so cozy and warm; I can feel her heart beat. But there’s a rumbling going on, I feel a shift in the atmosphere.

No history post on Friday since this Friday is so Good!
Have a blessed week and I’ll follow up next Monday GOD willing!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Internaitonal Roots Home Coming Festival, 11th Edition

Since Fridays blog post focuses on Gambian History what better place to talk about and promote the “International Roots Homecoming Festival", that was established in 1996 by Gambia’s then and current president, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh. His government developed the festival to forge closer ties with Africans in the Diaspora for meaningful cooperation and development, whilst promoting international cultural understanding and peace and also to enjoy tourist attractions, nature and cuisine.

Since 1996, the Roots Festival has attracted hundreds of Africans in Diaspora to The Gambia to re-connect with their African ancestry, and to immerse themselves in the values and cultures of Africa. The Festival therefore provides the platform for our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to come back to their roots on a cultural and historical pilgrimage, to network and build everlasting ties with The Gambia in particular and Africa in general for mutual co-operation and development.

Though geared toward those from and in the Africa Diaspora the festival is attending by all races and nationalities from all over the world.

This years festival is from May 3-10, 2013 and I'm sure is going to be full of surprises. Rev. Jesse Jackson is the guest speaker! To learn more about this years festival please visit the And if if you're coming from the states or Canada check out this link:

The week long festival is a biennual event, so if you miss it one year you’ll have to wait another two to catch it again. I’ve been to at least 3 of them since I’ve been living here and the last one in February of 2011 was by far the most memorable to me. I had a ball! It was so exciting, full of surprises and a lot of fun. It’s the 1st where I participated in the Futampuf. (Jola rights of passage ceremony). No one really talks about all that entails, but when I found out I had to dance down a red carpet where at the other end the president was watching and waiting; I wanted to find a place to hide! Geez, I think I told you before that I’m shy, now do this dance. I tell you being here has made me face most of my remaining fears. Like the star I am I jammed it! And guess what? It was televised live and on the net! People still recognize me.

What even made it more memorable was that during the opening ceremony of the festival my ex pat group here, “African Homecomers Collective”, were introduced to H.E. and when he took the podium he turned to address us and granted us (12) full Gambian Citizenship! Woo hoo: that was a surprise and just BOOM!  It’s a shame that such a blessing brought out the ugly in so many people here, but we were determined not to allow their ugly to cloud the beauty of this event and blessing. Because no matter what you say or do ugly is going to be ugly!

So I have to say that being a participant is much more fun than being a spectator. And I’m not saying that because of the citizenship thing, but the entire experience just so much fun cause you never knew what was going to happen next.
Me being introduced to H.E. at opening ceremony moments before I'm granted full Gambian Citizenshp
Come do it and see for yourself!

Monday, 18 March 2013

What's Been Going On!?

Phew! I finally made it back to you. I’m so thankful and glad for those of you who have been patient with me while I was getting back to 100%. Geez!

1st the Banjul Belly; hope you had time to Google it. Next out of nowhere I started having severe right flank pain, and not sleeping well, yikes! I’m telling you I was feeling, “some how”, as they say here. I waited for a few days to see if it would pass and I had already assessed that t was not a muscular pain. That’s tight I said assessed, remember I’m a nurse, so I actually assessed the pain and other symptoms and went to the pharmacy and got some antibiotics, no prescription needed. Just took my last one a couple of hours ago. Thank GOD HE has truly prepared me for this journey! 

I had to suck it up and keep it moving, but I wasn’t skipping around. I had made a commitment to be a speaker for an event for, “Black History Month” and I wasn’t going to back down. My word is so important for me to keep. When something happens when I don’t it disturbs something deep inside of me. Your word is all you have that can not be taken from you, even after death. Think about it. Even if you can’t speak you still can convey your word, look at Stephen Hawking and so many quotes that we use that are from people long gone. This my 1st invitation to be a speaker and I have had the revelation that this is part of my calling.

To top it off my church here in Gambia, “Abiding Word Ministires”, was having their 1st ever women’s conference and all the women had to sing in the choir. Singing in the choir didn’t help my belly ate all. Although many see me as assertive, some may even say aggressive I’m actually very shy. And singing in public is something I did not do till the 10th of March. I may have mentioned this before, but when I was an adolescent my mother and brother heard me singing and they laughed and made fun of me. It hurt my feelings so bad that I did not sing in front of people till we began our rehearsals. We went to choir rehearsal twice weekly and we did a nice job!  Even though I pulled it off it made me feel, “some how”. I feel awkward when put in the spotlight. GOD is preparing me though, because that’s where HE wants me so my testimony can be heard. It all made me feel so tired.

I’m actually just pulling it back together. Today was my 1st day back in the gym for 8 days! I usually go at least 3 days week. Yes, they have ultra modern gyms here and with free trainers!
I missed you in the midst of it all! I’m going to do a brief recap then move on. I really do hope that you’ve taken this time that I’ve been away to read my previous post that you may have missed.

Okay, Iet’s see:  I was waiting to have the hip replacement surgery I had been pondering and praying about what I was going to do. Stay in Chicago or go back to Africa after I recovered. I finally got my answer and knew I would be going back after the elections if I had progressed enough to walk without support.

I had the sense of unfinished business in Africa so I had to get back to continue my journey. If I didn’t go back I would not have been following the yellow brick road. What I realized was that being here feels like I’m in cocoon: even more so like being in the womb waiting for my time to be born. I feel as though I’m growing, maturing and being nurtured in a way that I didn’t quite feel in the states. 

My vision is clearer and the impossible seems possible as though I can hold it in my hands.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Less than 100%

Ugh, I've got Banjul Belly! 

It started yesterday afternoon with some mild nausea that I tried to discount and prayed about.
I went to bed early because I haven't been sleeping well lately and it seemed that I hovered between being asleep and awake all through the night. So the lack of sleep has added to my momentary misery.

Anyway I woke up early this morning with the unmistakable grumbling and cramping in my gut and everything that comes with it.

It's gotten better as the day has progressed, but I'm less than a 100%. Drinking water and eating fruit only so far.

Hopefully this is passing and I'll be able to be back with you very soon.

By the way, "Banjul Belly" is an actual term that you can look on online. 

GOD bless!

Friday, 1 March 2013

It Soothes!

OK, we’ve explored some West African History via learning about just a few of her instruments. I hope you take the time to explore more information not only on West African Instruments, but all of the musical instruments and genres coming from Africa. It’s the root of most of what you hear today.

I started off talking about the Jali/Jeli (African Words for griot) so I find it only fitting that I end this historical musical excursion with the pipes/voice.

Since I’ve mainly dealt with strings and percussions I’m going to add a wind instrument with the voices I so love.

The Tambin or traditional Fulani Flute of the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, is a three-hole wood flute.

The Tambin is revered for the profound effect it has on listeners, often bringing them to tears with its haunting sounds and melodies that reach deep inside ones soul. It is played all over West Africa by the Peul (Fulani/Fula) People. Because it is so long both hands are needed to play all the notes. These days it is used in public orchestras with a mixture of instruments and singing, as well as being played solo. 

The Tambin is a tube with usually three holes. Traditionally it is wrapped around with leather and wax and decorated with sea shells. Two or more notes are sounded simultaneously and integrated with mouth sounds. 

You can go online to hear this sweet instrument!

Now on to voices that move me to tears; and guess what? I don’t understand most of what they are saying, but my soul and spirit so connects with their music. Listening to them is like tasting something that is so good you savour it trying your best to understand the flavors on your tongue, but in the end you just close your eyes enjoy the taste.

Tambin/Fulani Flute
Here we go…...

Cheikh Lô was born in 1955, to Senegalese parents in the small town of Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso not far from the border with Mali. He grew up speaking Bambara (Mali), Wolof (Senegal) and French. His father was from a long line of Marabouts.

Lô began playing drums and singing at an early age. He joined Orchestre Volta Jazz, an ensemble that played Cuban and Congolese pop songs as well as traditional Burkinabé Music. Lô moved to Senegal in 1978. By 1985 he was playing guitar with numerous Côte d’Ivoire and French musicians, which lead him to record in Paris in 1987. While recording as a session musician as well, he started developing his own sound, described as a mix of Mbalax, Reggae and Soukous.

Most people mistake him for being a Rasta, but that is far from the truth. In fact he is a Baye Fall a sect of the Mouride Brotherhood that started in Senegal.

My favorite song by him, “Ne La Thiass”.

Cheikh Lô
Next and my favorite is Mr. Salif Keita. Born In Mali, West Africa in 1949, he comes from a noble lineage, a direct descendent of Sundiata Keita, the Mandinka warrior king who founded the Malian empire in the 13th century. 

Salif Keita was born an albino, a sign of bad luck to his people and was shunned and ostracized by his family and community alike. 

He originally wished to become a teacher, but unemployment at that time was high, so he switched to music. In Mali, musicians were often thought of as dissolute and irresponsible; also for a son of a royal family to go into a job that was traditionally the preserve of the lower castes was virtually unthinkable. His poor eyesight also contributed to his personal sense of alienation. 

In 1967 he moved to Bamako where he began playing in nightclubs with one of his brothers. Due to increasing political unrest, Salif Keita left Mali in the mid-'70s for the Ivory Coast and in. 1984 Salif Keita moved to Paris.

Keita's music blends together the traditional Jali music of his Malian childhood with other West African influences from Cuba, Spain and Portugal.

I cant’ say which is my favorite, but I’m partial to Yamore! I enjoy his early music more than so much of the studio mixes of his latter works. This man’s voice is so sweet!   

Mr. Salif Keita
I hope you sample some of this music and let in sink into your being.

One place I know you can find it and sample for free is Once you sampled you can check out the tunes you like on Youtube or just get your own. 

By the way, I left you some homework. Look up the info I have underlined to give you a deeper understanding.

Have a blessed weekend!