Friday, July 23, 2010

Death of an Igbo Club in Greater Los Angeles

Once upon a time, in what had been presumed as Greater Los Angeles area resident's "VIP" of Igbo stock at a hangout of champaign and isi ewu, goat head meal, a club was born. The club was called members of the house or something like that in the founders native tongue. The club had been tailored to be guiding light by way of tackling problems, grand and small, with regards to Igbo worthy causes within the Los Angeles area; in order to effect change in Igbo Diaspora, and be able to influence decisions in homeland to a calling for profound leadership.

These "Igbo elites" met on every Friday evening and "dialogued" into the wee hours of the night at this particular joint in the South Bay area of Greater Los Angeles, to prove why they have been unique in getting things done, and from around their surroundings which speaks volumes -- their outrageous color riot outfits and the kinda exotic fast machines that sits on the lots.

But as it eventually happened, the Friday event of "Igbo elites" at this particular joint then known for its flamboyant fanfare, became the forum where these "energetic" folks decided to negate the old guards they accused all along of not having a sense of purpose to get things done for Nd'Igbo, in which they desperately wanted some action relative to being practical and showing.

The cast of characters in this elite club had included "high profile" lawyers who'd never won a case in the law courts other than plea bargains, businessmen, cooks, dishwashers, nouveau riche, professional laymen, doctors, acclaimed local politicians, acclaimed historians who knew every damn thing about the pogrom and civil war but have not written a line of sentence to tell their stories, acclaimed thinkers whose thoughts stinks to the high heavens, acclaimed prophets who ends up in the alley soliciting prostitutes, pastors akin to Jimmy Swaggart, propagandists (the Otimkpus), alarmists, folks in a variety of academic disciplines, lavishing Diaspora chiefs, big game hunters, musicians who can't read notes, wanna belong fellas, area boys and things like that.

I, for one, checked out this hangout numerous times and it was nothing really to brag about, or take to the bank. It was a total mess considering people of high places that had gathered to form a powerful union with the ideal of doing good things.

As it also happened, there was a problem. The bunch of these "elites" of Igbo stock, had begun their meetings with suspicion, blackmail, sabotage, betrayal, wife swapping, homo sexuality, whiskey and whore stories, behind closed door gossips, and all kinds of crazy stuff; not trusting one another in what supposedly should have meant well from the perspective of its guidelines.

Ironically, these "elites" had a plan. Instead of such an infallible, confused, efulefu, worthless bunch to rethink their strategies by coming up with troubling isues of the day which destroyed a cultural heritage; cases of failing marriage institution in Ala-Igbo, the disappearance of the Igbo language and what should be done, integration, building community and the painful loss of leadership from the days of the Igbo union; the talk big, walk big "comrades" abandoned what they had spent time and money putting together, to material rivalry -- on who owns what, and who is individually accomplished when collectivity which ultimately leads to utopia should have been the goal.

The late Stephen Osita Osadebe produced a praise singing CD in their name when that miscalculating and senseless endeavor could have initiated a resource center, cultural center, research centers and things of that nature.

A mentally, impotent and unchallenging bunch could not come up with anything other than picnic in its engagement. Things like providing employment opportunities and having economic impact within its community, as in all communities in Diaspora who are doing stuff. From Pico Blvd. and Fairfax Ave. to Olympic Blvd. and Fairfax toward the Miracle Mile on the Wilshire Corridor, sits Little Ethiopia and all Ethiopian owned businesses. On the Westside, is the Armenian community whose history of genocide is, today, in the books, from mounted pressure groups. On the Eastside lies China Town, Little Tokyo, the Hispanics and series of communities dwelling together spreading all down the San Gabriel Valley. And, of course, there is Little Vietnam in Westminster and other Asian communities in and around the Long Beach areas.

I remember when Jimmie Asiegbu and I had stopped by former LAPD Chief and Councilman Bernard Parks' office for some concerns regarding our own very community as in concentration, while Parks was seeking reelection in the 8th District, and for our votes to count, Parks' first question was where he could identify an Igbo or Nigerian community in Greater Los Angeles. Apparently, we had none, not even in the near future for a bunch full of drama in its dealings.

A bunch who were suppose to come to the fore as molders and shapers but caught up haggling. A bunch who were suppose to give form and content to mass liberation movements but not surprisingly caught up quarelling over little things not relevant to societal well-being. A bunch which should be seeing objectively and clearly which way class forces are actually moving or aspiring to move, or which classes are advancing or retarding the advance, but caught up being blind followers. A bunch that would not table an intellectual discourse on the most blood soaked event in its history but would rather join the bandwagon designed to destroy its own.

Not even a discourse on a case of the Yoruba nation cooperating with the Hausa-Fulani murderous gang during the pogrom which was a mutual calculation of interest or in recent times measures to transform or eradicate toxic leaders who destroyed in its entirety Igbo related states, rather than be passive in order to be considered for their crumbs and left overs.

Well, the party is definitely over, and for sure, these easy going fellows could not do jack in their over a decade of consuming isi ewu. And what that entails is, like Bob Dylan, worried about failed states and American power, "it's not dark yet, but we are getting there."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Najite Agindotan, King of the African Drums

He was the Chief Priest, Fela Anikulapo Kuti's boy, back in the day, when Afro Beat, coined by Kuti, was the bomb at Baba's African Shrine where all kinds of rituals took place to reinvent a culture that was disappearing within its landscape. He speaks well of Baba who inspired him in what he now does very well, playing the adudu, African drums and percussions.

But Najite, as he is called by his admirers all around Greater Los Angeles, did take his hand-drumming craft to another level; initiating the Drum Church Circle to the City of Angels, inspiring others to follow, and the rest is now history.

On a normal Sunday afternoon, Najite pops up and walks around the village to survey which way the familiar rumble of his drum circle should spill in the park with a cast of vendors and tourists who'd shown up to make brisk business and stomp to the vibes as his entourage strikes rhythms together. Dressed in all white African outfits, his beads jingling around his neck and wrist band well-fit for the occasion, Najite peppers the Leimert Park Drum Church Circle beats with songs and yelps, echoeing as in African masquerade dance.

Master of his art, Najite, in 2000, was awarded the Congressional Award for Excellence by Representative Diane Watson. He has also received grants from the California Arts Council, the National Endownment for the Arts, and in filmmaker Ben Caldwell's own words, promoting and "incubating" the cultural arts in a multicultural Greater Los Angeles.

Also, Najite has been recognized by the University of California; Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine, and Riverside campuses for his thoroughness and persistence in the arts.

Now that Leimert Park Art Walk is born, expect more with the best yet to come!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Images of the 7th Annual June'Teenth Heritage Festival: Celebrating Black Freedom

June'Teenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two months more than President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, General Granger of the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas, and issued Order No.3: All Slaves Are Free!

Ndugu, Wadada and Kelly Love Jones performs at the back lot of The Vision Theater in Leimert Park Village.

Anthony Aquarius Mystery and the Jimi Hendrix Tribute Band performs live on stage as part of festivities celebrating the 7th Annual June'Teenth Heritage Festival.

The groove and the jam sessions.

The twist dance at the exclusive Barbara Morrison's Show.

Anthony Aquarius Mystery of A Jimi Hendrix Tribute Band and Cynthia Exum, the executive producer of the Leimert Park Village Book Fair share a moment...

The audience watches A Jimi Hendrix Tribute Band perform live on stage.

Vendors make brisk business hawking Los Angeles Dynasty t shirts.

Leon Mobley and Wadada entertains at the back lot of The Vision Theater.

Oran Z, founder of The Oran Z Pan African Black Facts and Wax Museum, which presents wax figures of African American personalities chats with a guest at his museum booth during the festival.

Afro Cuban Jazz Ensemble entertaning at the jam-packed Leimert Park.