Survivor's Notebook

Spiritual Revolution

Bois Caiman Ceremony

A depiction of the Bois Caiman Ceremony

On the island now called Hispaniola, where Columbus first landed over 500 years ago, was the French colony called Saint Dominique. In the chaos of the French Revolution, which began in 1789, an extensive network of Maroons, enslaved Blacks and “freed” Blacks launched a rebellion in 1791. In a ceremony known as Bois-Caiman, the leaders of the rebellion made a spiritual pact to support their cause. Days later, on the 25th of August, 50,000 captives rose up and destroyed the plantations. Around 1500 plantations, about 25% of all plantations on the island, went up in flames in one night. The smoke from the inferno could be seen from as far away as the Bahamas. Smoke and ash obscured the sun while saturating the air and sea. The Haitian Revolution had begun.

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Feature Story

No Island of Peace



“There can be no island of peace in an ocean of blood and tears.” This is a wise saying that is certainly relevant, even in the literal sense, when exploring the role of the Caribbean islands in the transatlantic enslavement trade. Early in the colonial period of “discovery”, these islands were actually some of the first to meet the imperial hand of the European colonial empire, as it stretched across the vast blue waters of the Atlantic. The white sands covering many of the beaches that are now tourist attractions once bore the bloodstained footprints of humanity’s greatest genocide. During the period of the slave trade, spanning from the 1500s to 1800s, these beautiful islands were often the first stop along the infamous “Middle Passage”. They would become colonies and homes to large slave plantations and with that, would also become a new home to many descendants of enslaved Africans, once chattel slavery was finally abolished.

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Talking Drum

Is it our time?

Sunrise over lake

The Sun rises, beginning a new day.

We don’t question so many ideas that we are told are facts. We take for fact that north is up and that gravity pulls us down. We assume that if today is Monday, tomorrow can only be Tuesday. New generations may never know life without cell phones, internet and video games. This world that has been artfully built for our amusement and convenience is distracting us from the reality of things.
Let’s notice that the calendar we are using has names for months and days of the week that are never explained to us in our formal education and never discussed in society. Do these names have no meaning or are the names insignificant? Where do these names come from and who decided that this is the way we should tell time? These are questions worth asking.
Upon investigation, we discover that the names in our calendar are mostly taken from Roman mythology, while the names of some months come from Roman emperors and Latin numbers. When we say today is Saturday, we are saying the day belongs to the Roman “God”, Saturn. In other words, we are worshipping Roman culture and mythology when we use this calendar.

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Cover Story

African Festival of the Arts – Chicago – 2016


“Egungun Ancestor”, by Adedayo Laoye Oil on Canvas, 1998 From the Dixon School Art Collection, Chicago, IL

The African Festival of the Arts announces Rose Royce and Howard Hewett to headline ‘togetherness’ celebration

Monday headliners join stellar entertainers from across the African Diaspora

(CHICAGO) – The African Festival of the Arts (AFA) has announced a stellar lineup of entertainment led by its Labor Day headliners Howard Hewett and Rose Royce.

Hewett and Rose Royce will take the stage Monday evening, Sept. 5th. Held each Labor Day weekend in Chicago, the Festival offers the best in entertainment from around the world, and this year is no exception.  From Sept. 2-5 in historic Washington Park, these headliners are just one element of the renowned festival that offers a glimpse into the many unique treasures of the African Continent including African-centered offerings from across the globe.

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Alternative Health Notes

Food as Politics

GMO-ActivistsIt is difficult to pinpoint the exact time frame in which food became politicized, but here in America, food is steeped in politics and is constantly a subject within current events. The politics of food are too numerous to name in one short article, but here are a few:

  • Genetically modified food (GMO)
  • Nutrition standards  
  • Infant formula  
  • Fast food conglomerates
  • Processed food and labeling
  • Meat safety
  • Pesticide standards
  • Water as a commodity

Although each of these topics are equally important, we will review a couple of these within this article.

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