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A young man who we would call European quietly went to her and gently kisses her

on her forehead. For a moment she opens her eyes and smiles. He validates

her existence demonstrating that she has a reason to be happy.

 

 

Holguin Siempre Adelante

(sign at the airport)

Holguin Always Looking Forward

An Artistic Journey by Claire Carew

 

May Day May 1st 2007 I am in Cuba. This is the day traditionally commemorated in many parts of the world as Labour Day, not in September as they do in Canada and the USA. 

As soon as I touched down in Cuba they started to speak to me in Spanish. At the airport in the line for Foreigners / Visitors a female immigration officer only approaches me asking me questions pertaining to my stay. I answered in Spanish/English and she made her exit stage left.

I am here as an invited guest to attend the Romerias de Mayo Festival which is held in Holguin, Cuba every year in May. A facilitator for the event Karina saw my work on the internet and after several emails and my official submission I am here.

It is a time for artists, musicians, writers, actors, dancers, painters, sculptors, singers to join in the festivities.

Everywhere I went people spoke to me in Spanish. I was born in English speaking Guyana, South America and spoke English except for one word. Apparently around the age of two; my mother said I would often ask for water by pointing to the tap and saying “Agua.” Initially my mom said she was puzzled; but after listening to a radio show she understood that agua was Spanish for water.  I am fascinated by that revelation.

May 1st evening

Cuba honouring the Aboriginals peoples of America.

Jorge was waiting for me at the hotel and introduced himself as my translator. I trusted him right away. He is professional and a university student. He translated my thesis at the scheduled conference and took me to a surreal Santeria Mass as I had requested. A few minutes later after meeting Jorge, Alexis—my second translator and in charge of transportation and meals—calls on the telephone. He is also a university student and passionate. He tells me clearly I must get dress to meet the president of the festival at a welcoming party. Alexis arrives by taxi. I like and trust him as well. We are now three strangers in a taxi going to a welcoming party for the guests of the Romerias de Mayo Festival.

We met the president of the festival and other invited guests from around the world. We enjoyed ourselves

Exhibition

The racial make up of most people at the festival were Cubans of European ancestry. A young 20-something group heavily influenced by the music culture of England and the United States. They were playing rock. John Lennon’s “Imagine” opened up the ceremonies:

Imagine

    By John Lennon

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

*   *   *   *   *

We waited for transportation—a bus, a taxi, anything. Then midnight came and the signal came: trucks and fire trucks started to blow their horns off in the distance and began to wind their way and around to us. The Afro Cubans who were standing on the side of the streets—tall and thin and dressed in white with umbrellas in the darkness of the night—went into movement. The music started. The drums began. The parade had begun to the park.

I woke up the next morning with the rock bands singing their last song. Big smiles were on faces as they carried out their friends on crutches. I think I know where they fell: probably in those holes in the park. I remember my friends and I watched a few people go in and out of the holes and we had to move away. It made us laugh hysterically watching them get back out.

*   *   *   *   *

Holguin Cuba

Viva Los Aruacos

Viva todos Indigenous

Viva todos los personas aqui en Holguin

 

I search for you my Aboriginal brothers and sisters of Cuba

buried deep in the crevices of this land.

They tell me all signs of your faces are gone 

erased and extinguished from the memories of the contemporaries

All wiped out 100 fires Cienfuegos

Destroyed

I refuse to accept this as true

I retreat and meditate

 

Where are you Invisible Ones?

Direct my steps

Guide me on my quest

Will I see faint images of you buried deep

in the walls of colonial buildings?

Desperately I paint you back to life

so others may see your faces

and help resurrect you

 

I walk with my paintings of your brothers and sisters

from Canada, Mexico, and the USA.

May I introduce you to your Hopi brother

Lewis a chaman from Arizona?

 

I have made the long journey to distance lands

researching, climbing, and documenting the Indigenous

peoples of the Americas. I come to you with open arms,

I bring with me the image of Sitting Bull the Lakota Chief

Does he look like you?

 

Here in Holguin I am happy and thankful

to have the guidance and protection

of Jorge y Alexis my translators

assigned to me by the Romerias de Mayo festival organizers.

They are my eyes, seeing which exist

My mouth, communicating in Spanish

Giving me the time to be quiet and to seek you

 

To return to times gone by when you walked this land

Before the Spaniards

Before the African slaves

Before the workers from China

Today an Afro Cuban young university student

showed me a photograph

She danced and dressed to look like you

I am going back to Canada knowing

that I have stirred the heart of this young student.

*   *   *   *   *

Diary entries Holguin Cuba

Opening Ceremonies

 

May 2nd 2007

For the first time in my life I am in a horse carriage in a parade waving to school children and adults who have come to wish us well. We sing and dance as we make our way down the streets of Holguin. I am ecstatic.  I choose to sit in a carriage with my translators and a few of the organizers of the festival and one of the delegates from Holland also join us. Over 370 international participants attended the festival which is held every year from May 2 to May 8. It started in 1993.

*   *   *   *   *

May 3rd 2007

High Noon

The Festival includes a pilgrimage to the Loma de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross). It is midday—the hot sun pours down and we must make the long climb up the stair case of over 400 steps. My translators Jorge and Alexis suggest an alternative. If I so wish, we could take the bus.  Of course there is no question. I make the climb with several mini-rests to catch my breath and take sips of water and photographs. We were successful. Jorge and Alexis were patient with me.  It is the day of the cross—celebrated also in Mexico. But in Holguin the cross has been transformed into an enlarged replica of a Taino hatchet, Hatcha Taina. We are here to honour the aboriginals in any way we can. At the summit of the hill many have lit candles and are writing little notes to leave between the crevices of the stones or next to the candles. I do the same.

I am starting to think that I can connect the Native carvers from British Columbia to the Cubans who carve the Hatcha Taina in a style similar to a totem pole.

*   *   *   *   *

Opening of My Art Exhibition

 in honour of the Aboriginals peoples of the Americas

May 3rd  2007

It is early evening I am tired, but exuberant. We climbed the staircase and we did not get wet from the torrential rain that poured down a couple of times as we made a sprint for the awaiting bus to take us back down the hill.  

It is now time to open the doors to my art exhibition.

My exhibition went well. Art in Cuba is brought to the masses in restaurants, video stores, murals and functionary household items. My show is held at a popular video store.

Can you believe it I asked for music and when I arrived there was a professional opera singer there to serenade the guests?  I am humbled and thankful.

People came and signed my guest books; candles were lit; singers sang and we joined in, people asked questions, fascinated and ready to learn more about why the lives of indigenous peoples intrigues this African Guyanese Canadian. I am happy my exhibition was a success. I can rest knowing “I have made my mark.”

*   *   *   *   *

Holguin Cuba

May 6th 2007

I am protected on this land of the Indigenous peoples. Yesterday at the art school I spoke to over 600 students. Several years ago Fidel Castro came to open the school. Students are in bright, cheerful uniforms. They are well dressed, tidy, and quite friendly.  The student council came to greet Alexis, Jorge, and me—girls first then the boys. We were taken into the director’s office to get know each other—there were delicious omelets and café con leche.

In the midst of my presentation the school next door had a practice bomb alert. Students running and hiding.  Jorge told me what was happening—the reality of Cuba in a world where the threat of an invasion floats to the surface from time to time.

I spoke on the importance of connecting to other cultures—respecting others cultures. As I looked out to the sea of a quite homogenous population—no hijabs, no one appeared to be Muslim, Hindu, Aboriginal. I emphasized the economic benefits of learning different languages, for a country such as Cuba which has had an embargo placed on it for several decades.

The art work of these students—17 to 18 years of age—is impressive. However basic art supplies are lacking. The magnificence outdoor murals painted in the heart of the city just a year ago are beginning to peel and fade I make a promise to myself to send them sealers so their murals will stand the test of time.

Something that keeps coming to mind here is that I have to also honour my life in paintings and sculptures.  I cannot just dedicate myself to the struggles of aboriginal people or other struggle. Somewhere in between I have to make time for my biography through art.

*   *   *   *   *

Honour Song

Drummers and trombone players honoured me and sang Happy Birthday to me in Spanish. Young women dance a sensuous dance to the drums. Jorge told me what was happening. It opened my heart to hear the drums and especially song, The African presence is very strong. I reluctantly leave this awe inspiring school of the arts.

*   *   *   *   *

 John Lennon Song “Imagine”

opened up the closing ceremonies

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

*   *   *   *   *

We waited for transportation—a bus, a taxi, anything—to take us to the closing ceremonies. Then the clock struck midnight. Bells sound. This is the signal: trucks and fire trucks started to blow their horns off in the distance and began to wind their way around to us. The Afro Cubans who were standing on the side of the streets tall thin and dressed in white with umbrellas in the darkness of the night went into movement. The music started . . . the drums began.  The parade had begun to the park.

I woke up the next morning with the rock bands singing their last song. I left the windows of my hotel room and smiled as I looked at the time. They played all night.

Making my way out to the front of the hotel to wave goodbye, bus loads of bands are loading up the buses to take them back to Havana. A good time has been had by all.

Big smiles on the faces of those carried out by their friends on crutches. I think I know where they fell, probably in those little obscure holes in the park. I remember my friends and I watching a few people go in and out of the holes and we had to move away as we were so tired that we were laughing.

Farewell till we meet again

In the few days I have been in Holguin, I have noted a resilient people. Strong Cubans: a willingness to live triumphantly amongst harsh conditions. I have noted cultural values and gender specific behaviour. The women of all ages are sensuous; dressing in seductive wear, walking like goddesses. At no time did I find the outfits risqué but more of a respect and a tribute to the female form.

 

At first I was baffled.  Isn’t this a communist country? Why do these women dress seductively? My feelings being shaped by the images I saw in Moscow years ago and my own understanding of emancipation of women. However as a visual artist I soon dropped my assumptions and I too took in the beauty of my Cuban sisters in all shades and shapes The sensuality of the women and the role of the man. The love of children and ever present surprising prominence of Catholicism and African base Santeria spirituality alongside secular living.

In today’s world of technology and embargos it is the love of each other that carries Cubans through. Warm kisses on the cheeks, hugs. A man stops loading his truck calls out to a girl who greets him with a kiss on the cheek.

A young sad looking woman is curled up in a fetal position at the festival head office she is taking a siesta. She is a brown young woman. In Canada we would call her Black or bi-racial. A young man who we would call European quietly went to her and gently kisses her on her forehead. For a moment she opens her eyes and smiles. He validates her existence demonstrating that she has a reason to be happy. She is loved. These examples are but a few that we saw repeated over and over, love manifested in the ordinary.

 I am going back to Canada tonight and I have not checked my email since May 1st. It felt good. Just now I said goodbye to Alexis y Jorge. Of course I was sad and I waited until the last moment before entering the airport shuttle to give them their gifts. .Although that did not stop my tears from flowing...

This life here for a week has been devoid of distractions. I have not listened to the news. I have lived intensely for a week enjoying watching dancers on balconies and city squares, gallery hopping, staying up late and waking up to music. Hearing the sounds of tropical birds and falling in love with Cuba.

*   *   *   *   * 

Reflections of a Butterfly

 

I am neither Guyanese nor Canadian

No soy ni guyanesa ni canadiense

I am neither male nor female

No soy ni hombre ni mujer

I am neither a nomad nor a settler

No soy ni una nomada ni colono

I am neither a chaman nor a humanitarian

No soy ni un chaman ni un humanitario

I am who I am, a child of the universe

Yo soy quien soy hijo del universo

A star in the sky, a flower growing

Una estrella en el firmanento un flor que crece

A tree holding strong

Un arbol que resiste

A butterfly unfolding.

Una mariposa que crecimeinto.

 *   *   *   *   *

Creativity abounds in Holguin Glossary

Bici/Taxis Bicycle Taxis: A bicycle taxi has seat for two on the back of a bicycle. They are fast can get around cars and you pay the rider. He of course is usually a strong muscular man. Claire Carew www.clairecarew.com

 *   *   *   *   * 

The Artists of Santiago de Cuba

*   *   *   *   *

Capitalism and the Ideal State: Marcus Garvey  / Negroes and the Crisis of Capitalism (Du Bois)  / Economic Emancipation of Africa

Liberty and Empire  /  Money is Speech   /  On Capitalism: Noam Chomsky

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books

 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

*   *   *   *   *

 

Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 14 December 2007

 

 

 

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