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Thursday, February 16, 2012

SF State University presents Pan African Fashion Show in style.

It is mostly the women at San Francisco State University who keep the fire alive during Black History Month.

The Black Student Union - today, mostly have our Black Sisters in charge doing what they do best - shine the light and make things happen.

The Pan African Fashion Show held on February 15, 2012 covered a wide area with the students - displaying the various costumes - from North Africa, East Africa, South Africa, West Africa, Brazil, India, and beyond.

To further shine light on the African Diaspora they were Afro Indian performances, Afro Asian dances, Afro Latin dances and a fusion of dances that the students deemed fit to perform - challenging the human mind and vision to see beyond the beyond - connect Africa to the world.

Costumes,music, and dance from the 1920s to 1960's - were played and the students danced to portray to us the best from this period.

We all remember when Harlem had their own thing going - with the eyes on the world on them. Those were the glory days - Billie Holiday fame.

Inter-mixed with modern and contemporary Hip Hop, Rap and a few other choice moves and dances - the students with limited fiscal resources put on a grand show and won applause from all gathered as a family. 

The MC who put everything together was great - and and at the end of the show - was thanked profusely by all.

Kudos to the organizers and all those that supported the Black Student Union at SF State University.

The vendors at this event - selling African goods and costumes came up to the stage and pitched and enticed others in the audience to come visit their stalls and buy their choice goods.

Kudos to the students who work two and sometimes three jobs, attend the required classes, and still have time to meet and put on such performances to keep the light burning and pay respect to the Mother Land - Africa.

The events during Black History Month - are well attended but as we see with the signs of the times - the women are many and the men are not there in numbers.

Under further introspection - as is evident from the goings and doings of the times - in the many Black neighborhoods - incarceration rises its ugly head.

Instead of our men being in college they linger in jails - over charged and found guilty in most cases - because they do not have the fancy lawyers and attorneys - that those who will and deal and make the ugly policies have at their finger tips. Three strikes and more.

Our Black women cease to be defeated and so against great odds - pick it up always and do their best. This tenacity is a strong factor throughout history of Blacks from before slavery, during slavery, and all through modern and contemporary times.

I have been observing the various events at SF State Black History Month, for a long time - and in the past ten years for sure - the women have been on the fore-front and we Black men are grateful for their fortitude, astuteness, compassion, and sound leadership.

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and am very proud of the land of my birth. The home of all humankind - Africa has cast its shadow in smaller and larger measure all over the world.

The many educational and professional entities are now recognizing the contribution of the diaspora and Blacks all over the world.

Modern science through its technology has now charted the course and the long journeys that those who once started their long journeys from Africa traversing to far off places, enduring hardship, facing death and bring life.

The footprints left throughout the world traversing the land when the Continents were less torn apart - and crossing the rivers, lakes, and oceans - using boats and ships. In many cases wading and swimming to seek the land that they sought to live and let live.

African navigators are the best and history has recorded their deeds - and their ability to build state of the art ships.

The Pan African Fashion Show further tried to display the continuity of the rich culture spread throughout the world - further reaching out to such countries that boast many Black inherited customs and traditions.

These segments of the population connected to Africa - ancestors who once came from far off lands - plucked from Africa under circumstance too deep to fathom - always seeking the best to survive.

Now, these once Africans far away from their original homes after thousands of years - make their abode in the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, India, all the way to Australia and beyond.

In India the scientists say the DNA traits are 98% close and matching the DNA of those in the African continent - perhaps a mystery of the common person to comprehend - but always pointing, positively to the Mother of all Mothers - Africa.

Other branches of clans and tribes from Africa went all the way to Mongolia, others to Japan, to the many islands that dot the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

To the Americas both North and South - with countries like Brazil putting their best foot forward showcasing the customs from Africa.

Colorful costumes from Africa, percussion instruments, dances, and mock fighting dances - through which stories were told to keep Africa and things African - alive.

Most Blacks feel strongly connected to the civilization of Egypt but there is more from other parts of Africa - that they sons and daughters too and shared - all over the world.

Africans influence ship building, and war strategics - with Hannibal taming elephants and moving to Europe to tame the once might Roman legions.

Even today in the mountain areas of Italy there are Black Nobles - in Italy who speak fluent Italian and have lost the ability to speak the languages of their Mother land. Kapish.

Algebra, numerals, surgeons and surgery, the Pyramids, perfume, philosophy, music, the very letters that made reading and writing possible - all originated from Africa and countries like Egypt and beyond.

The various civilizations are numerous and still exist intact in many African countries. There are other wonders that are beyond the beyond - know to the Shamans, some call it magic - but in many areas of Africa they are the medium - between the understood and those that are mysterious but possible.

I cannot cover too much in this article - because my main reason is to focus on the diaspora that influenced - dance, music, food, language, and the many cultures that we see - the thread, that connection so deep and so naturally - African.

This is tribute to our Black Sisters primarily but also to our Black men who against many odds have stuck together.

Our Black women never, ever give up - because they too against greater odds - silently, with fortitude and perseverance - project the best they possess - the envy of all.

The Pan African Fashion Show did have some Elders in the audience - silently pondering, that more should be done to support our Black Students.

More importantly, the Black Student Union, but more the communities from where our Black students hail and come to San Francisco State University to learn and contribute. From all over California,the entire United States and from all over the world.

Some of us Blacks and those with strong connections to the colleges, universities, and in this case SF State University - early on - for the past ten years have seen the dwindling of our Black communities in large towns and cities in California.

Right here in San Francisco - the City and County of San Francisco boasted a Black population of 25% percent of the total population.

The percentage of Blacks in San Francisco has now been reduced to less then 5% and fast fading into oblivion.

Gentrification and the ugly head of the SF Redevelopment Agency and now under a new name continues to haunt and adversely impact the minorities - among them mostly - African Americans - Blacks.

Early the Unfinished Agenda projected this calamity but our City and County of San Francisco did not pay - any attention.

A recent document entitled the Out Migration - makes a mockery of the Unfinished Agenda.

It has nothing to offer - but platitudes and promises that mostly fall by the way side. Our Black students and others must unite to first evaluate the situation at hand and secondly to do something about this dire situation.

Our Black Student Union was formed in the 1960s right here in San Francisco .

SF State University boast the first ever Black Ethnic Studies Program in the entire Nation. Know to the entire world and many African leaders made it a point to study at SF State University. 

All the more Black San Franciscans must support our students. And joining them other communities small and big that send our Black students for further learning to all our colleges and Universities here in the United States and abroad.

Many of our Black Students visit Africans countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Egypt, and so on.

Many of the ideas incorporated into the Pan African Fashion Show - were incorporated from such internships from studying and staying in these African countries.

All Black Student Union entities all over California must now meet to fathom, evaluate, and plot the journey to better project and represent - Mother Africa. 

This is possible through the Internet  - some of us know about this very powerful medium but we have to get together to further our common cause - putting aside our differences and focus on certain goals that help our communities small and large.

The Black Student Union leaders in the sixties, together with the Black Panthers, the many Black and other professionals came together - to fight discrimination and better the lives of everyone and that included Blacks.

Many paid a price and to this day the deeds of some of Black Panthers is not looked kindly upon - by Law Enforcement.

Other entities that do not see eye to eye with the minorities and that includes Blacks. We still have an on going case linked to some Black Panthers - years after an incident happened - the case keeps hurting the families, supporters involved - all to the delight of those that by design want to see our Black community - divided.

The Civil Rights Movement and other movements of the sixties speak volumes - none of these movements came about without sacrifice and love. Many died including our heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In recent history from the Motherland came Movements very deep and with far reaching consequences.

The Mau Mau movement. Some of our Elders remember this time and some of our youth - have lost touch with this history that is very important - but not told for lack of awareness.

In conclusion, this Pan African Fashion Show tried to shine light on our proud culture - dance, the spoken word, music, food, rituals, customs, our deep spirituality all of which play an important role. Make us what we are a noble people - Black is beautiful so beautiful and many envy to be it - but cannot.

In my many travels - people ask me many questions about the above topic and more. The diaspora has brought many Blacks together - some years ago this very question - brought about the formation and operation of the Museum of the African Diaspora - by Third Street and Mission in San Francisco.

The Museum of the African Diaspora makes its abode in the Hotel Saint Regis. The very first article about this Museum was written by me - a long, a very long time ago.

My thanks and sincere appreciation to the many students, the key organizers, and to San Francisco State University for helping the Black Student Union showcase the best the Black Students and others - have to contribute.

Thanks to the many sponsors who made the Pan African Fashion Show possible.

This dialog must continue in some fashion - to better the understanding of all Blacks but more our Black students who must lead, and contribute their best to this Universe.

Long Live Africa and the Mother Land. Uhuru!