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The Rhythm People Coalition Takes over Dallas

Not even torrential downpour in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area could snuff out the drumbeat that connects people of African descent across the globe. Nor could it deter a small, but powerful, group of artists and activists from fulfilling their vision of enlightening others about the power of said drumbeat in uniting the African Diaspora.

Last weekend, a bevy of melanated people from across the United States and around the world converged on the grounds of a large ranch, located just south of Dallas, for a weekend of dance, song, and discussion during the fifth annual DFW Africa Festival. This African-centered event served as the first stop on the NOMAD Tour, an effort to promote and preserve art, tribe, trade and culture of people of African descent.

“This tour goes around the Diaspora to promote that rhythm spirt and remind us of our ancient ancestors and what they left on their nomadic journey around the world,” Kim Poole, leader of the Rhythm People Coalition, the group that hosted the NOMAD tour, told an audience shortly before a panel discussion about education and wealth-building in Black community Saturday evening. “We must be aligned with who we are and with our destiny,” Poole, a globally renowned singer from Baltimore, said to the multigenerational audience of artists, educators, and entrepreneurs.

The panel discussion, themed “What It Means to be Black” counted among several activities that took place at the Cedar Canyon Dude Ranch in Lancaster, Texas on June 3rd and 4th. From University Hills Boulevard, passersby could see a multitude of flags, including those representing Kenya, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Pan-African unity, flailing in the wind along the outskirts of the property.

What took place at the festival however, proved nothing short of mystical.

After parking, picking up a NOMAD Tour packet, and walking into the ranch’s pavilion, guests had a number of vendors and food choices through which they could peruse. On the main stage, Sista Bey, a member of the Dallas area’s Pan-African community, kept an upbeat vibe going through much of the day, acknowledging audience members who travelled far and near and encouraging guests to buy Black and follow in the footsteps of those who are homeschooling their children. Later, Bey poured libations and called the ancestors into the space. Underneath Bey were Kente clothes of various colors and patterns along with bamboo trees.

Other activities on Saturday evening included self-defense workshops and a gun demonstration, during which experienced brothers dissembled an AR-15 and touted gun ownerships and safety to onlookers. Children safely frolicked around the space in their multi-colored dashikis and people of the Diaspora, including Queen Diambi of the Luba tribe in the Congo, relished in the moment, forging new connections.

“I go around trying to meet people of African descent wherever they are. This is the calling of the ancestors to connect with another experience. We have to reconcile our experiences and put them together,” Diambi told AllEyesOnDC during an interview in the ranch’s pavilion. That weekend, Diambi, crowned by her village elders in 2011, met with other African-centered groups and people as part of her mission.

“We need Africans in the West to be well versed in the culture and resources. We also need you to help us realize the value of what we have. They don’t know the riches. You can be a wonderful mirror to recognize the wealth we have in your traditional systems to elevate our consciousness,” Queen Diambi added.

Other stops on the NOMAD Tour include Paris, Portland, Jamaica, and Los Angeles, all of which will most likely include participation from those who came into contact with the Rhythm People’s Coalition in Dallas.

“I felt very good about the festival,” George Omoth, key organizer of the DFWAfrica Festival, and affiliate of the Rhythm People Coalition, told AllEyesOnDC. “It was a very big improvement and the theme of the festival is important. My goal is to share the African cultural tradition in the Diaspora,” said Omoth, a Dallas resident of more than a decade and Kenyan immigrant who has lived in the United States for 35 years.

Guests, Viewers Received the Keys to Nation Building on Inauguration Night

While most of the world focused much of their attention on President Donald J. Trump last Friday, dozens of folks at Sankofa Video Books & Café learned about U.S. media manipulation, examined Our current situation in a global context and committed to involvement in local politics during AllEyesOnDC’s first community news gathering of 2017.

Below is the video footage.

Part 1
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Part 2 
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Guests on the program (in order of appearance):

*Netfa Freeman* of Pan-African Community Action

*Krystal Branton*, ANC Commissioner, 4D05

*Obi Egbuna*, Pan-African journalist, playwright and educator

*Naeemah Powell*, musical guest

We developed the Jan. 20th event, themed “Building a Black Nation in the U.S.” understanding that, at the most basic level, non-melanated people, and their melanated accomplices, oppress working class Black people politically, economically, and socially. Without resources and desperate to survive, many of Us turn against each other while embracing the very entity that created the conditions under which we suffer.

Long before Trump’s ascent to the presidency, many of our People in the inner city and rural parts of the U.S. experienced these troubles, even with a growing Black middle and billionaire class, increased educational attainment, and greater circulation of dollars in this capitalistic society. Many of us who succeeded in mainstream society abandoned a race consciousness characteristic of the 1970s and 1980s. In short, We used the victories of the past to “integrate rather than penetrate” as our guest Baba Obi Egbuna, Pan-African journalist, playwright, and educator, said on Friday night.

This remains the case when many of our Black women, perhaps disillusioned about Black men’s lack of engagement in issues related to them in recent years, join the White woman’s cause against Trump despite century-long evidence that discourages such a relationship. By keeping our eyes on the real goal of Nation building, we don’t fall victim to such distractions. Please watch these two segments when you lots of time to kill to see Our point.

Conference Brings “Truth2Power” for Black Women

Long before Europeans colonized the Motherland and forever changed the course of history, African people lived communally and women sat at the helm of various societies as gatherers, healers, and advisors. Centuries later, gaining and applying that ancestral knowledge remains a constant challenge for sisters living amid perpetual dysfunction, squalor, and violence.

However, a paradigm shift may be just around the corner for those who converged on the Prince Hall Masonic Temple in Northwest last weekend for the inaugural Truth2Power Women’s Conference. Over the course of two days, a bevy of Black women, along with male community members, engaged in healing activities, created lifelong bonds, and learned about various methods of self-care that could better enable them to lead fulfilling lives.

“This was an opportunity for us to connect spiritually so we can get to the essence of who we are and bring that out of each other. We are divine beings having a human experience,” Patricia Patton, co-organizer of the Truth2Power Women’s Conference, told AllEyesOnDC.

Patton described the gathering, which took place on April 1st and 2nd, as an extension of the Truth2Power show, a weekly program on We Act Radio, based in Anacostia, she and Kristina Jacobs, a D.C. area community organizer, have hosted for nearly a year. She said squabbles within the planning committee almost jeopardized their plans. While similar situations would discourage groups from carrying out their work, it further compelled the duo, along with their small team, to unify as many Black women as possible.

“[We Black women] give life to every man and woman so it’s up to us to connect and respect one another,” Patton added. “Black women have gotten a bad rap. It’s important to embrace each other. There’s so much animosity and focusing on our differences. It’s important for us to get along and support each other. We came from shattered pieces and this needed to take place for the women.”

On Friday night, visitors walked up a steep flight of steps and into a dimly lit ballroom adorned with African art, flowers, and other decorations. Dozens of vendors set up shop along the outskirts of the large space where they sold clothes, jewelry, fragrances, sculptures, photos, and other wares. An on-site massage therapist kneaded his fists into visitors’ backs and supplied much needed physical therapy that weekend. Holistic health agents also doled out fruit and vegetable juices, healing crystals, and vegan meals.

D.C.-area poet Raquel Ra Brown served as mistress of ceremonies for Friday evening, introducing a cadre of widely renowned acts including Princess Best aka Hip-Hop Momma, Afi Soul, and Ayanna Gregory (pictured in the feature photo), all who call D.C. home, along with Watoto from the Nile, Sunni Patterson, Charm Taylor, and spoken word artist Dominque Christina. DJ One Luv spun the one’s and two’s throughout the evening as each artist seduced the audience with their intricate wordplay and hard truths about misogyny, trauma, disunity, and ignorance.

Shortly after her performance on Friday night, Patterson, a spoken word artist from New Orleans, explained her purpose in speaking truth through her words. That evening, she recited three poems and called on audience members to yell words of affirmation that she said would vibrate through the U Street Corridor for weeks and months to come.

“Everything has a spirit in it. Whatever I do has a tone of acknowledgment of the ancestors and gratitude to my guardian spirits,” Patterson told AllEyesOnDC. “It’s one thing to enlighten but it’s another to inspire. We can do it as one. We have this purpose and obligation to lift up and be for ourselves and others. I want to bring that to my work. Our words are medicine to the community and world.”

Throughout much of Saturday, women participated in group meditation exercises and learned how to best take care of their bodies. Representatives of BeNature Earth Wellness Center, based in Waldorf, Maryland, stressed the importance of a balanced diet while Dr. Mawiyah Kambon, a Raleigh, N.C.-based psychologist, later regaled the audience with a presentation that outlined her most recent findings. Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka, president of the D.C. Association of Black Psychologists and pioneer of “psychohairapy,” wrapped up the festivities with her keynote address.

For Denise Douglass, a designer who represented Ites International Fashion, the Truth2Power Women’s Conference reaffirmed the Black woman’s power in bringing calmness to whatever environment she occupies. Douglas, a vendor that weekend, recalled seeing people at their best as they talked and laughed among one another.

On Friday, Ites International Fashion put the Kwanzaa principle of Umoja into practice on Friday when more than half a dozen women sported different dresses during a modeling show.

“The vibe is very smooth in here. The people are enjoying themselves,” Douglass said. “It’s natural for us [as Black people] to have peace, not all of this chaos. This conference helps women take control of their lives and be free in this place. It brings power and unity. That’s what it’s all about. We can become a stronger race because of it.”

D.C. area mother and community member Asteria Hyera said she looked forward to finding Black-owned businesses that could meet her basic needs and watching Narubi Selah, a spoken word artist and educator from Trenton, New Jersey, perform. On Saturday, she did just that, linking up with Venus Visuals, a local producer of custom jewelry, and Freedom Toilet Paper, a black-owned business based in Baltimore.

“I’m always looking to connect with like-minded Black women who are about Black liberation,” Hyera told AllEyesOnDC. “This sounded like an opportunity to meet with those who are building. The Black woman is a mother, teacher, and builder. We have to be at the forefront to reinforce good values.”

For Patton and Kristina Jacobs, the most intriguing aspect of last weekend’s conference was the connection between women of different ages. The co-hosts, who have a more than 20-year age difference, said the lessons they learn from each other in the course of their work at We Act Radio inspired their goal of placing elders and young people in the same room.

In the spirit of millennial fortitude, Jacobs, 23, expressed plans to continue the work of the Truth2Power Women’s Conference in her daily work. Goals include the purchase of property and collaboration with Black women across the globe.

“We need to be investing and reclaiming these historic buildings so we can use them for our institutions. The possibilities are endless,” Jacobs told AllEyesOnDC.

“We’ve also talked about taking the Truth2Power Women’s Conference on the road, because the conversations and connections we’re making need to happen everywhere, not just in D.C. I’m sure there are relationships that will come out of this that we will never even know about, but that will benefit our community in incredible ways. The first step is getting people who are committed to building community in the room together and creating a space for connection and collaboration. These sisters really walk the walk, so I’m excited to see what fruits manifest from this,” Jacobs added.

Photo by Rodney Ladson & Key Digital Media 

 

A Moment with Nana Malaya Rucker

Since the age of 16, Nana Mayala Rucker has brought African-centered folklore to life through spoken word and dance. Her craft for telling stories in this manner has taken her around the world. She has before well-known political powerbrokers. In her role as a “cultural ambassador” Rucker introduces people of various backgrounds to forms of African dance and music. In her journey, she learned more about the most remote places on earth and the elements of Africa they possess.

These days, Rucker performs and educates our young ones, ensuring that the arts remain a vehicle for change that people of African descent utilize to their fullest potential. At a time when schools in communities of color have embraced test-based curricula, this elder works hard to bridge the generational gap and ensure that young people have access to a time-tested means of the artistic education that has been proven to uplift. This mission bears a strong similarity to previous ventures, including Nubian Theatre & Dance Co., an international dance company that has exposed children and adults of African descent to the folklore and spoken word since the early 1980s.

In this AllEyesOnDC video, Rucker, a student of August Wilson, John Henrik Clarke, and other prominent African figures and scholars, reflects on her coming of age, how she rose in African consciousness, and the hurdles that she faced in her pursuit of international stardom. She then closes this segment with a performance honoring the late, great Rosa Parks on the 60th anniversary of the day she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.

McKenton Talks about D.C. Lingo & His Growing Comedy Empire

For the last three years, D.C.-born comedian McKenton has regaled audiences around the country with his quips about his life and facets of the human experience. A unique part of his comedy centers on his use of slang indigenous to Washingtonians.

In recent months, McKenton has taken his talents to the Internet with “Storytime with a D.C.N*gga” and other clips featuring members of High Quality Band along with other local celebrities. These videos, along with other material on Instagram and other social media platforms, quickly made him a favorite among Washingtonians scattered across the country. McKenton’s growing catalogue also speaks to the lengths he’ll go to put D.C. on the map as a hub of comedic talent.

During a recent interview with AllEyesOnDC host and founder Sam P.K. Collins, McKenton touched on the need for local artists and media figures to support one another. He also talked about how he plans to preserve the D.C. culture and rep for the home team through his comedy. As you’ll be able to tell by listening to the clip, the audience at Sankofa Video Books & Café loved this man, a sign that black people of all backgrounds can play a part in the Pan-African liberation struggle.

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