Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 18th 2013 Contents Told you we ain t dead yet
we been livin through your Internet
you don t have to believe everything
we ve been programmed wake up, we
they call you indigo, we call you
go get baptised in the ocean of the
say reboot, refresh, restart
fresh page, new day, o.g. s, new key
The Healer, Erykah Badu
It s as if I m floating over my
own body as this is happening.
Like I m not really here. In
Accra, Ghana. In the heat and noise
of an African night. Talking with
Angela Davis. Yes, THE Angela Davis.
Her afro still big and defiant, chal-
lenging the straight acceptance of
weaves and relaxer. The words are
tumbling out of my mouth and I feel
jumpier than ten teenage girls in a
Justin Beiber concert.
I am telling her the story of that
time when I was in Cuba in 2000
and I met Assata Shakur who, like
a runaway, had escaped to a freetown
called Havana after the FBI decided
that she was a terrorist.
We bumped into her, Mariamma
and I, on the last day of an inter-
national solidarity conference, the
young people from all over the
Americas seeking her out, hoping to
get a glimpse of her. We were about
to catch a train to go and see Che s
remains in Santa Clara and in looking
for a quiet spot from which we could
sneak out, ended up sitting right
next to Assata, who smiled at us
with the quiet dignity of one who is
notorious and loved.
I thought at the time and I think
now: everything happens when it s
Like this is the moment when I
am meant to be in Ghana. In Africa.
For the first time. Standing between
my mother and Angela Davis. Two
giants in the development of my per-
sonal and political consciousness.
On the scale of life experiences
and adventures, I think I would rate
this moment in the top five. Second
maybe to being born. I ll allow myself
this rather un-Aquarian exaggeration
because I don t know how else to
process what I ve been thinking and
feeling and living for the past two
But it s a wonderful confluence of
life experiences against the backdrop
of a conference hosted by the Organ-
isation of Women Writers of African
Descent at which my Eintou is pre-
senting a pan. Yari Yari Ntoaso brings
together women of African descent
from around the continent and the
diaspora to explore the individual
and collective experiences of women
as writers, as academics, as queer
theorists, as troublemakers, midwives
of a new era for young black women.
In addition to the conversations
on the panels and the conversations
over lunch and on the bus to and
from the conference, there are the
moments with the volunteers. Young
Ghanaian women. Who have the
kind of beauty that you see on every
street from Brixton to Kingston and
everywhere in between.
An unconscious kind of beauty.
Hidden behind lace front weaves.
Talking with them is what I enjoy
the most. Their voices and their
smiles and the spontaneous dance
moves we break into at random
moments in our conversations tell
me that this is where I am supposed
to be at this moment in my life.
For no magical or mystical reason
I am never going to be the same
again. Places and people change you.
Adding this experience to my life s
equation is no idle feat.
I try to be reasonable about pro-
cessing my feelings.
Along the way I worried that I
would have anticipated this too much
and that it would either be disap-
pointing or tragic. I cried with fear
and nervousness and joy at every
point of the journey from London,
to Rome to Lagos and then to Accra.
When I finally got out of the plane
and felt the heat and smelled the
smells and heard the voices, I knew
it was going to be okay. And a man
behind me said "You are home." And
I looked about for the camera crew
because it was just too much like a
film moment to be true.
There is no film crew following
me but I know I really will never be
the same again.
Africa, this corner of it, far from
being the home I thought it would
be, is the place where I am even more
comfortable in my state of being that
unapologetic small-island Trini. An
amalgam of things and people and
ways of being.
More than an African. I am a Steel
Pan African. I am the product of
survival. I am the reconfigured,
reconstituted truth of globalisation.
I am Anansi and Osun bouncing up
Durga and Hyarima.
Everything happens for a reason.
And how it s supposed to. In the
African time. Not too early or too
late. Just right.
What else can I be but thankful.
Saturday, May 18, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
GHANA IN A TIMING It's Your Write
Calling attention to
Lady Young Road
I shall try to answer some of the
questions posed by Mr S Mo-
hammed in a letter to the editor on
the state of the Lady Young Road
by relating my experiences since I
first asked the same questions.
The San Juan/Barataria Regional
Corporation is responsible, solely.
I have always seen the Lady
Young Road as having the potential
for being the world's most beautiful
entrance to a capital city.
With this in mind I wrote to min-
ister Hazel Manning in 2006, two
years before we staged the two in-
ternational conferences which
brought world leaders to PoS, and
spelt out how this should be done.
As the road is the only artery out of
PoS when downtown floods, it
should be given highway status,
with all that implies: no vending or
dumping, no roadways intersecting
and heavily monitored by the police;
a landscape architect to be hired
and plans drawn to dramatise this
beautiful site; what should be
planted, lay-bys identified, verges
kept low and the spectacular view
enhanced. I heard from a mutual ac-
quaintance that she thought this a
wonderful idea. And that was it.
Recently, because of my continu-
ing interest, I was invited to join a
group of San Juan/Barataria coun-
cillors on a fact-finding tour.
This was to establish how many
squatters were on government land,
as the representative for St Ann's
had been receiving many complaints
about these and other infractions.
The land north of the road is state
lands, and south belongs largely to
the Catholic church and private
I met the group at their office and
after a considerable wait we ap-
proached a bus.
Before we boarded the bus, how-
ever, we were addressed by a coun-
cillor who stated, "My name is
(name called) and nobody will ever
house and it not troubling me, I
leave it just so. Nobody will say I
make them homeless."
There was no discussion about
re-settlement or public housing.
With that we drove off, soon to be
met by a police patrol car should
any disturbance take place. We
stopped twice, councillors got out,
walked around two dwellings and
then back to the office. So when I
read that the Minister of Planning
said that the law governed every-
one, I thought of this councillor ap-
proving lawlessness. No hope!
The other government agency
guilty of non-performance on the
Lady Young is Town and Country
whose job it is to monitor billboards.
Their advertising act totally forbids
billboards to be to be erected on
scenic routes. These eyesores
should be removed at once.
We have the chance to create a
space of outstanding beauty. I sug-
gest a Lady Young Road committee
be formed, a strategic plan be cre-
ated and we will move from there.
Will the authorities involved please
re-think their approach.
Free media pass
I refer to one of the recent scan-
dals of the Obama administration
where they wiretapped the phones
of AP reporters. I am yet to hear or
see one word of protest or outrage
either from the local or international
media. One ought not to forget the
pounding our Prime Minister took
locally and internationally not so
long ago on her Government's per-
ceived attack on freedom of the
press. It seems Mr Obama gets a
free pass not only from his own
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