Mandela: The Last of Our Pride ~ Written by JASON HARRIS

Jason HarrisJason Harris pens “The Last of Our Pride” — a roaring tribute to the Lion of Azania, Nelson Mandela. Harris asks us to consider “What forms do our lives take as a race without the “one” whom we can look to for inspiration and model ourselves after?”

As Nelson Mandela’s health continues to improve, according to various news reports, VoicesfromHaiti stands with Jason Harris and celebrates “The Last of Our Pride.”

Jason Harris is a Baltimore based multimedia artist whose primary medium is speculative literature.  He is the editor and publisher of ‘Redlines: Baltimore 2028’ a speculative fiction anthology that focuses on near future scenarios in Baltimore, Maryland. His upcoming novella, ‘Fly, Girl’ will be released at his event, Mind Trip 2.0, in September 2013.  More information about Jason and his work can be found on his website,www.newfuturism.com.

The Last of our Pride

Written by Jason Harris

mandela 3Happy Birthday, Madiba. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is 95 years old, resting, dream-walking the path that separates the ancestors from our world.  Walter Sisulu, Chief Albert Lithuli, Govan Mbeki  and countless others on the other side occasionally brush his spirit and say, “Brother, you have done everything and more on that side.  What keeps you?”

Madiba, no doubt, makes a wry comment about the machines that his physical form is currently connected to, and promises that he will join the ancestors sooner than later.  There is no question that wherever the Lion of Azania travels, there is a crowd waiting for him. From the perspective of a child of the diaspora, the image of Nelson and Winnie Mandela holding hands raised over their head as a sea of ANC supporters shout ‘Amandla’, or the black and white photos of Mandela nattily dressed as a young barrister are iconic touchstones that speak to something within us that strives for and seeks out the best. There can be no disagreement with the idea that Nelson Mandela embodies our best.

mandela peace doveYet there is a disquieting void in this moment, as Mandela has been in and out of the hospital in the last year.  There seems to be less joy in celebrating a life of supreme achievement and more of a sense of dread.  White South Africans- the Boers (and the British) are worried that the hardliners in the ANC will exert their influence upon South Africa in Mandela’s absence and carry out measures akin to what Robert Mugabe has enacted in Zimbabwe.  Black South Africans (a redundant term in my opinion) are worried that white South Africans will revert to their more overt measures of oppression in the absence of a moral executor such as Mandela.  Mandela’s children are entrenched in a battle to properly bury their Father.  World leaders such as Obama are hastily making plans to descend upon South Africa to pay their respects and gauge in what manner Mandela’s possible transition affects sub-saharan Africa as a whole.

Desmond Tutu, Ahmed Kathrada, Thabo Mbeki are still with us.  Even former UN head Kofi Annan is with us; but none can be compared to Madiba.  In retrospect, Mandela is the last of the Lions- Martin, Malcolm, Medgar, Steve (Biko), Walter (Rodney), Kwame (Nkrumrah); these are Mandela’s peers.  These are men who fathered movements and stepped in harm’s way.  Mandela was able to reach his particular mountaintop – ending apartheid and bringing South Africa into a multiracial society. Nelson Mandela tasted victory in a way no athlete or executive could ever approach.  While there are mountains yet to be climbed, those journeys are for others.  What forms do our lives take as a race without the “one” whom we can look to for inspiration and model ourselves after?

nelson-mandela1_custom-451884e26a2e9677b50650949e908433e61f79b9-s6-c30Nelson Mandela has lived the lives of multiple men in one soul stirring timeline- Prince and son of a Chief, founder of the first Black law firm in Johannesburg, political activist stepping forward to speak for his people, revolutionary moving about underground to avoid arrest, political prisoner, unifying messianic force of change, President, and now in his retirement, an avatar for morality, dignity and leadership.  His close friend, Ahmed Kathrada, said it best:

“From childhood, when he was brought up as a chief, Mandela was groomed to be a leader. Added to that were his political experience, foresight, courage and dynamism.  Throughout the period that he operated underground, and during the Rivonia Trial, he displayed the undeniable qualities of leadership, culminating with his address from the dock.  Our lawyers, the media, the outside world and all of the accused….accepted him as the leader…”

Young_MandelaConsider the vile reality of apartheid, where a pencil was pushed into ones hair, and depending on whether the pencil held fast or fell out determined the racial category one was officially classified under.  Being classified as an African meant losing one’s property, curfew, restricted movements withIN the country, as well as general subservience to the white minority.  Mandela’s journey was littered with the likes of State sponsored terrorists such as Theuns ‘Rooi Rus’ Swanepoel, the policeman who ordered the Soweto massacre in 1976 and Piet Badenhorst, a sadistic warden whose iron fisted rule of the Robben Island prison that housed Mandela featured prison guards burying inmates up to their neck and urinating on them.  In spite of the dehumanizing tactics of the apartheid regime, Mandela and his fellow inmates transformed Robben Island into a think tank that laid the ground work for the end of South Africa’s version of Jim Crow. The 27 years of imprisonment honed his prodigious gifts as a leader until he emerged from jail as a force whose proper place was nothing less than the world stage.

nelson mandelaHe patiently waited, shaping and honing his weapon of choice, his ideas, ever alert to opportunities to make them sharper, more efficient, more accessible.  Madiba could have fallen to bullets, bombs, bombshells, money or promises.  He didn’t; he walked out of the boxes they placed him in to crush his mind, body and spirit, ready and willing to live up to what he was expected to be.   His emergence and his powerful example as a man of intelligence and morality inspired the entire world.

At the end of Spike Lee’s film ‘Malcolm X’, we see the children standing up and saying ‘I am Nelson Mandela.’   The image was beautifully conceived and brought to mind the ANC slogan of ‘when one in front falls, another is there to catch the spear and continue the fight’.  Almost 50 years later, the last words of Madiba’s famous speech during the 1964 Rivonia trial that would send him to prison for nearly three decades serves as perfect encapsulation as to why children would be so inspired:

news paper image of nelson mandela“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people.  I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.  I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.  It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve; but if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Madiba’s charisma, intellect and discipline in the face of apartheid was singular- what we will find out in a world where the enemy has shifted its tactics, is not only who will carry on the Lion’s fight, but whether or not they are a lion at all.  Viva Madiba! Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika!

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Mandela - npr-photo

Mandela – npr-photo

“We stand here today to salute the United Nations Organization and its Member States, both singly and collectively, for joining forces with the masses of our people in a common struggle that has brought about our emancipation and pushed back the frontiers of racism.”

South African President Nelson Mandela
Address to UN General Assembly
3 October 1994

Nelson Mandela’s Gift ~ written by Irmina Ulysse

Irmina Ulysse-001Today, July 18, 2013, we wish THE Nelson Mandela a joyous birthday. We wish him light and love and peace and many tomorrows to come. Our hero has been in the hospital for quite some time now; we wish him well.

Mandiba: Holding space for compassion and forgiveness

by Irmina Ulysse 

Family feuds make good headlines. So, as Nelson Mandela remains in the hospital, the media has been fraught with negative news about the turmoil within his family.

nelson-mandelaSome of us may find ourselves wondering, what kind of people would judge and criticize during what could be this man’s final moments with us? Or some of us may find ourselves becoming increasingly agitated, thinking how his daughters, family, extended family, South Africa could allow this to happen.  Why can’t people control themselves? This is such an embarrassment to the country, etc.

Who are they? Who are the ones we call them? And why are we so focused on them? Why do we cling to something we cannot control–something that can fuel only discord and disconnection?

Why are we not holding the spiritual space of healing instead?  Isn’t that what Nelson Mandela continues to stand for?

mandela peace doveIn spite of what the “mass energy” might have us feeling, we still all have a choice.  Isn’t that one of Mandela’s teachings: to find and choose the path less traveled?

We can focus on the behavior of those around him and how much we disapprove.  We can focus on the media and how much we disapprove. We can allow our emotions to spiral downwards and fuel discontent, hate, and anger in a sometimes discontented, hateful, and angry world. Or we can choose differently.

Practice compassion, forgiveness and stay centered in your light during this time, even if you think you might be the only one.  We human beings are capable of great compassion and grace: He told us this. He has practiced compassion and grace for his entire life. He has taught us. That lesson may very well be his last and greatest gift to us.

1-Hummingbird2 (1)-001I am grateful for the work Nelson Mandela managed to accomplish. He suffered greatly for his beliefs, but did not allow the suffering to deter him from bringing about  the end of a vicious system that tore men and women apart literally. What a hero Nelson Mandela is! May he celebrate the happiest of birthdays! I know you wish him well, too.

Irmina Ulysse doesn’t write for VoicesfromHaiti too often. She is a busy-busy healthcare professional. When you meet her, however, she is always ready with a kind word and a recipe for some cool dish. She respects deeply those whose contributions bring about a shift in society. Nelson Madela is a Chef-d’oeuvre, an international treasure for the innumerable examples he set before us all. Wishing Nelson Mandela a Happy Birthday on VoicesfromHaiti was an honor.

Independence Day for a Rèstavèk — by Patricia Philippe

It’s  dark. Fireworks have begun to streak the sky with glorious reds, whites, and blues. America celebrates its independence again. We are proud. We are also proud of the fact that Haiti–only Haiti–fought for and declared herself independent just a few years later after 1776. Haiti remains the only nation whose slaves fought and won a revolution. The year was 1804. Who wouldn’t be proud of that?

1804. Haiti declared herself free. No more slavery. But it’s now 2013, and a child sleeps under a table tonight. Someone forgot to tell her she is, indeed, free. No one has told her.  Not yet.

While the sky stretched over the United States explodes with color tonight, a child tumbles into a colorless dream. She is a rèstavèk–a “stay-with” child, a modern-day slave. The little spot under the table has been her bed for many years. There are no dreams under the table. No hope. No future. She does not know the meaning of independence. Perhaps, she will never know. No one has told her. Not yet.

Read Patricia Philippe’s offering on the subject of Rèstavèks below. Happy Independence Day from VoicesfromHaiti.com

Rèstavèk ~ by Patricia Philippe

VoicesfromHaiti.com Photo

Haitian Kreyòl is the language of we, the people, including those among us born on American soil; including the children of rèstavèks.

Who is this Gede they keep talking about? Black man in a suit with baby powder all over his face standing at the intersection of life and death, ready to help fools cross over?

Burn purple and while candles for him? Not today. It is Damballa I favor to make an opening in the sky for my heavy thighs to keep doing warrior poses.

My white candle burns on the ancestors table to pay homage to the wise spirits who penetrate my thoughts while I sleep. They teach me through my dreams.

What color candle does Madame Renaud burn? To whom does her rèstavèk pray? She had one at the house in Port-Au-Prince, don’t you know. Madame Renaud referred to the rèstavèk as her little girl: “The little girl I take care of . . .”

We all knew the little girl didn’t get much care at all. Madame Renaud wouldn’t have said it loud enough for anyone to hear. There were her pride and  conscience to protect. We all knew the truth.

What crime did the child commit?  Was it an offense to be born to parents who could neither nurture nor educate her?

The child was sent to live in a city with wolves: Was that some sort of punishment? It’s supposed to be a secret, you know. They don’t like it when I tell you this. They don’t want me to tell. But I can’t keep my mouth shut. Like the fireworks in the sky, I will not be silent. Not anymore.

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Patricia Philippe is a writer and Managing Editor of Kalyani Magazine. She lives in New York, and started Ann Pale Kreyòl: a “meet-up” group that supports Haitian-Americans who wish to learn Kreyòl and improve fluency.  

Kristo Art’s Entire Portfolio For Sale

kristo more artKristo Nicolas’ entire portfolio is up for grabs. From Florida to Haiti, New York, Italy, Canada, and Holland–Kristo’s impressive collection has been enjoyed by art lovers everywhere. Bright primary colors skillfully blended are available to collectors and art lovers who desire to brighten their walls with well executed, contemporary pieces.  For the spiritual-minded, a series of mixed media masks and various scenes depicting African elements of the motherland are also available.

Take advantage of this once in a life-time opportunity to own a Kristo Art original painting. The artist’s entire portfolio available to art lovers and collectors around the world.
kristo;s womenKristo (Christian Nicolas) grew up in a home where reverence for photography, literature, and the arts were evident.  Under the guidance of his parents and uncles, Christian tested, learned and entered the world of picture taking Influenced by French poets.
At the age of fourteen, Kristo began writing poetry.  He moved to the United States at nineteen, where he earned a degree in Art Photography. Kristo devoted most of his time to writing and drawing until meeting Haitian master Jean Claude Garoute, also known as “Tiga.”
Kristo Art Crop JMJKristo began to paint with Tiga’s guidance.  In addition to producing acrylic on canvas artworks, Kristo found new possibilities in the appliance of the “ Soleil Brulé” technique created, documented, and taught by Tiga.
Kristo is also the co-author of the book “Here There and Beyond:  The work of 16 Haitian Artists of Florida” and the author of “Beyond Words – Beyond Colors”:  a book that encompasses his three passions: writing, fine art photography and painting. His latest published book “Au-delà des mots et des couleurs” is filled with beautiful poetry, philosophy and works of original art.
The artist can be reached at 954-232-2266 or at kristoart@yahoo.com His website is www.kristoart.com.
photo courtesy of Kristo Art

photo courtesy of Kristo Art