BASICS sat down with the Venezuelan musician, Sandino Primera, to talk about: his music; the impact of his late father, Ali Primera; and the Venezuelan revolution.
by N. Zahra – BASICS Issue #27 (Dec 2011 / Jan 2012)
The proper nouns pertaining to the work of d’bi young have been left in lower case to respect the spelling conventions of the artist.
From October 22 to December 4, 2011, the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto staged d’bi young anitafrika’s three plays, the sankofa trilogy. Each play in the trilogy tells the story of a generation – 1972, 1992, and 2002 – in a long line of Jamaican women struggling with the violence of colonialism and neo-colonialism. d’bi tells the stories of these women through a technique called biomyth, an approach to artistic creation and storytelling that embeds one’s personal lived experiences within the broader people’s history. While each play is distinct in its style and specific themes; they all deal with the different ways that the sankofa women have grappled with the violence inflicted upon African women by colonialism. d’bi’s mastery of monodrama reveals itself in these three one-woman shows as she convincingly slips from one character to the next – often accompanied by intense rapid emotional shifts – in a heartbeat.
blood.claat, the first of the three monodramas, tells the story of mudgu sankofa, a 15-year-old girl coming of age in 1972 Jamaica. She is being raised by her granny and her mother is living in Toronto. Although she has many of the same preoccupations associated with a 15-year-old girl such as boys, sports and music, she is also struggling with the feelings of shame projected onto her by the wider society. These feelings re-emerge throughout the whole story as her granny and boyfriend make her feel shame for menstruating. Read more…
by Ashley M.
Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment
Edited by Carole Boyce Davies
241 pages. Ayebia Clarke Publishing. $24.95.
Picture this. It is 1948 and at the age of 23, your citizenship is denied to you because of your political activities since you were 18. How would you feel?
Claudia Jones, activist of Trinidadian origin, was outspoken as early as when she was in Grade 4! Yet, her deportation case was a big part of her life because it was the first time she was arrested. Jones knew that she was a thorn in the side of racist legislators in 1930s USA: “I was deported because I urged the prosecution of the lynchers rather than the prosecution of the Communists and other democratic Americans who opposed the lynchers, big financiers and war mongers, the real advocates of force and violence in the United States”.
Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment is a collection of the works of Claudia Jones, who created a ripple effect for many women of colour in the United States as an intellectual pioneer — daring to speak out against racism, sexism and class exploitation. The book, edited by Carol Boyce Davies, also highlights Jones’s life story through her many writings, essays, and poetry, which reflect how her personal experiences led her to rise up and resist. Her poetry was an outlet of creative resistance, capturing intense emotions that could only be expressed outside of political, formal writing and speeches. Read more…
An Interview with D’Bi Young, creator of The Sankofa Trilogy
by Corrie Sakaluk
D’Bi Young’s powerful Sankofa Trilogy played at Tarragon Theatre between October 22 and December 4. This interview was originally conducted for The Dialog, reproduced for BASICS at the request of the author.
What were the seeds from which the Sankofa Trilogy first started to grow?
I think the seed was seeing my mother perform when I was about 5 years old in Jamaica, at the Jamaica School of Drama, which is the school that is at the centre of Word!Sound!Powah. My mother was doing a one-woman show directed by Honor Ford Smith, who is actually now a professor at York University teaching community arts. So Honor Ford Smith was in Jamaica at the time teaching at the Jamaica School of Drama, and my mother was one of the students there between 1982 and 1985. I will never forget being in the audience and watching my mom, only my mom, on stage. It was a silent play about a woman living alone in her apartment, her routine and how she experienced her aloneness, and it had such a profound effect on me. That’s one thing that pops up to me.
The next thing that pops up to me is that I watched this film called The Three Faces of Eve, I must have been 8 years old. That film was a black and white film about a woman who was schizophrenic and she had three personalities, and I don’t know why that stuck with me, but for some reasons I’ve never gotten that film out of my mind. That film always comes back to me. So those two experiences were seeds that were planted in my young impressionable mind long ago. Read more…
by Kevin Edmonds
By Todd Gordon
432 pages. Arbeiter Ring Publishing. $24.95 ($16.46 from online retailers).
Most Canadians tend to view our country as a force for good in the world — we have even been subjected to beer commercials trying to convince us that we are a nation of peacekeepers, not soldiers.
On Monday, November 7, BASICS correspondent Steve da Silva linked up with the Filipino-American MC Bambu for an interview after the Blue Scholars show in downtown Toronto. Bambu is from Los Angeles and has been producing for almost a decade with the likes of MC Kiwi, DJ Phatrick, Power Struggle and many others. In the Fall of 2010, Bambu, through Soul Assassins, released the “Los Angeles, Philippines” mixtape with the legendary DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill). Before 2011, the mixtape had already hit over 100,000 downloads. His LPs include ‘self entitled’, ‘exact change’, ‘i scream bars for the people’, and ‘paper cuts’. Here’s what the ‘Kasama’ [comrade in Tagalog] had to say to BASICS…
Steve da Silva / BASICS: How does the national liberation movement in the Philippines relate to the music you’re producing in America?
Bambu: There’s a clear line between the two. Like I said on stage, all my music really does is raise the awareness of the people and the consciousness of the masses. It’s a tool used to organize. The goal is to get those people who like the music to actually go out and organize. That’s where I separate myself from the actual work that’s going on.
Now, if you wanna talk about my organizing, then yeah, I am also doing work in organizing and educating folks, especially within the youth sector, basically building a bridge between what’s going on here and what’s going on back in the Philippines. What we like to say is connecting the ‘micro’ to the ‘macro’. We’re trying to get the youth we’re working with – youth of colour, Filipino youth – to bridge what’s going on in the community with what’s going on back at home and around the globe. Read more…
D’bi Young on new album 333 and the Sankofa Trilogy plays, with updates on Black Liberation Army P.O.W. Robert “Seth” Hayes from Nate Buckley of the National Confederation to Free all Political Prisoners and End Unjust Incarceration
Click the link above for podcast, or listen to this episode in the mp3 player at the bottom of your browser at basicsnews.ca.
On today’s show, we talk to dub poet and mono dramatist African-Jamaican-Canadian D’bi Young about her forthcoming album 333 and the Sankofa Trilogy of plays that are currently being staged at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. Check her out at http://dbiyoung.com/.
In our feature discussion, we talk to Nate Buckley, organizer with the National Confederation to Free all Political Prisoners and the End Unjust Incarceration about the current status of prisoner of war / political prisoner Robert “Seth” Hayes former member of the Black Liberation Army and Black Panther Party.
From October 12-22, 2011 CHRY 105.5 FM in Toronto will be running its annual fund-drive, this year entitled ‘Sounds Around the City’. We are looking to raise $105,000 this year, and the Radio Basics program has a goal of raising $700 ourselves.
Undoubtedly one of Toronto’s strongest campus-community radio stations, located on the campus of York University and in the heart of the Jane-Finch region, our station cannot survive without the continued support of our listeners and supporters of independent, community radio. Radio Basics has been broadcasting our anti-imperialist and pro-people’s broadcasts since Sep 11, 2008 at CHRY – and we couldn’t do what we do on the airwaves without having a strong community radio station like CHRY to work with.
How to donate
Listen to Radio Basics on October 17, 2011 from 8:00-9:00pm, and donate directly CHRY through our program, or call the station any time from October 12-22 at 416-736-5656.
Or, you can donate online at chry.fm. Click the ‘DONATE NOW’ button, and don’t forget to say that you’re donating to the Radio Basics show, Mondays 8-9pm!
by Noaman G. Ali
The Communist Manifesto (Illustrated). Chapter One: Historical Materialism
Edited by George S. Rigakos, illustrated by Red Viktor
29 pages. Red Quill Books. $12.50.
The crew at Red Quill Books has decided to put out a comic book version of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s 1848 text, The Communist Manifesto. That may seem old school but the text seems remarkably fresh, like it was written yesterday, when placed alongside images of our own world today.
For example, we see images of Western UN soldiers handing out aid in an unspecified African country, even as military helicopters bombard villages. Marx and Engels’s text accompanies: “Just as [capitalism] has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised countries, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.”
The language may be archaic (who they calling barbarian?) but its meaning comes through, especially when placed along the illustrations by Victor Serra (Red Viktor). Without a doubt, the best image is of a human pyramid of class struggle — ordinary folk throughout the ages struggling and climbing atop of rulers and their police forces: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”
But the editor, George S. Rigakos, a professor at Carleton University, saw fit to rearrange and trim some of the original words. While trimming might have been okay, throwing the words out of order seems to me to take away from some of the force of how Marx and Engels build their argument step by step. The text in the comic book seems a bit disconnected, rather than something building up.
Also, rather than letting the German revolutionary philosophers speak for themselves, Marx and Engels’s text is preceded by an editorial introduction in two parts. The first is a written piece by Prof. Rigakos which sounds almost apologetic about doing up this comic, given the supposedly repressive history of communism when put in practice — though apologetic, the piece is hopeful about new readers discovering the text. This apology is followed by a lengthy and wordless illustrated sequence where an old school, disillusioned communist activist yells at Marx’s grave in the rain, angry about Stalin and Pol Pot.
By no means should those struggling to build a new and better world avoid examining the sometimes colossal mistakes of actually-existing socialisms in the 20th century (though, even by that standard, Pol Pot’s Cambodia is a far stretch — it was backed by the imperialist United States in war against communist Vietnam). But Prof. Rigakos could have started out the comic by examining the relevance of Marxism and communism as a living and vital force in world politics today, be it the resistance of peoples in Latin America trying to build new socialisms, or the revolutionary communism of the peoples of Nepal, India and the Phillippines.
Instead, Prof. Rigakos gives too much to the current ruling classes who seek to discredit everything about communist movements past and present, trying hard to pretend that Marxism and communism are dead. So it comes down to Prof. Rigakos and Mr. Serra to breathe some new life into it by “reanimating” the text, as he puts it. But that text is already being animated by peoples around the world.
This book is the first of four parts, and hopefully the following parts focus more on what Marx and Engels wrote themselves and the living relevance of Marxism and communism today. Trying to introduce The Communist Manifesto to a new generation of students and youth is definitely a worthwhile effort, and we hope Prof. Rigakos and Mr. Serra are successful in this.
$12.50 is a bit hefty when your average monthly comic goes for $3 or $4 (and is therefore out of the reach of a lot of working folk), but it is a slickly produced, full-colour book by a small publisher and part of the proceeds go to supporting student scholarships. So if you have the money and like radical comics, you might want to get the four parts as they come out. Definitely grab a hold of the comic books from a library.