Tag Archives: Africa

Full circle: The New Face of Travel (9/22)!

Standard

I was thrilled when curator-about-town Lisa Gray (my former Mills student and TA) asked me to host a themed reading for 14 Black Poppies/The Bloom Series. I chose the rich topic, BAD TRIPS, and decided to continue the personal touch by inviting Elaine Lee (one of the first people to publish me) and four folks I’ve taught or mentored through VONA Summer Workshops for Writers of Color, the San Francisco Writers Grotto and LitQuake.

The result is BAD TRIPS:  What do a global health epidemiologist, Bedouin-Finnish musician, immigrant rights activist, and host of a Black travel show have in common? From Navigating Tanzania’s Gay Underground to Crossing the Border on an Acid-trip. From Bottoming out at Burning Man to Flying off to Fight Ebola: It’s good stories come from BAD TRIPS! 3 writers + 1 poet + 1 storyteller + 1 singer/songwriter. Music by Hassan el-Tayyab of American Nomad.

Come see THE NEW FACE OF TRAVEL: Tuesday 22 September 7-9PM, Laurel Bookstore, 1423 Broadway, Oakland. Suggested $5 donation.

The Bloom collage

/// ELAINE LEE is a globetrotter and travel journalist. The editor of Go Girl: The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure, she has visited 56 countries and made two solo trips around the world. Her ground zero home is in Berkeley, and her cyberhome is www.ugogurl.com. Most recently she taped an episode of Bay Area Check, Please!

/// KARINA MUÑIZ is a Prose Fellow/MFA Candidate in the Community Engagement Program at Mills College, and the Political Director at Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a grassroots organization of Latina immigrants. An alumna of Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation/VONA, she holds Masters degrees in Urban Planning and Latin American Studies from UCLA.

/// TOM PYUN is a travel addict who works as a nonprofit consultant to support his habit. A queer Korean-American man, he lived and worked in Tanzania for two years where homosexuality was criminalized with 30 years imprisonment. He is a 2015 Voices of our Nations Arts Foundation/VONA Fellow and has been published in Reed Magazine.

/// SRIRAM SHAMASUNDER started writing creatively as an undergraduate in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People class at UC Berkeley. He is a doctor/poet who works at UCSF and runs the HEAL Initiative (@healinitiative), a program focused on building health workforce capacity internationally and in the Navajo Nation. He writes to keep his balance and bear witness.

/// HASSAN EL-TAYYAB is an award-winning singer/songwriter, author, educator, and cultural activist residing in San Francisco. His critically-acclaimed Americana act, American Nomad, performs regularly at festivals and venues up and down the West Coast and beyond. His memoir is forthcoming this fall from Poetic Matrix.

/// FAITH ADIELE, HOST is author of a travel memoir; subject of the PBS documentary My Journey Home; and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World. She teaches at California College of the Arts, The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and Voices/VONA, where she’s established the nation’s first workshop for travel writers of color.

Advertisements

Africa + Southeast Asia + Serendipity = Tonight’s Bay Area Generations Reading + Chapbook

Standard

This is a rather sweet Grotto – VONA – CCA tale. This evening my friend, Burmese poet Maw Shein Win, is guest curating the Bay Area Generations reading, which pairs 2 “intergenerational” writers together. When I joined the famed San Francisco Writers Grotto, I was excited to see a Burmese name on the membership list and resolved to hunt her down. Imagine my surprise to discover that her mother was the first Burmese bhikkhuni, and her surprise to discover that I had been Thailand’s first black Buddhist nun!

pool_banner_1-965x454

Meanwhile, I had also met my friend Audrey Esquivel in a workshop for mixed-race Buddhists of color at the East Bay Meditation Center and discovered that we share a rather unique combination of cultural influences. Get this – she’s African American and Anglo Burmese, and her blog is called Chutney & Chitlins. I learned that she too was writing a memoir about her international family set within the tumultuous context of global history, and as soon as I heard her parents’ amazing story, I resolved to do everything I could to make sure it was told.

Audrey took her first ever writing creative class with me – my Your Personal Odyssey: Explore & Tell Your Story with Faith Adiele at The Grotto. I later arranged for her to meet my friend, award-winning writer Canyon Sam who’s writing about Burma, and Maw, who in turn introduced her to the Bay Area Burmese writing community. Last summer, I encouraged Audrey to apply to the VONA/Voices: Summer Workshop for Writers of Color, where I’ve taught for the past 7 years, and she was able to study with a Stacyann Chinn, a Black Asian immigrant woman memoirist.

Since then Audrey and I have become part of a writing group comprised of mixed-race Buddhist women of color (only in the Bay Area, my friends say!), and she was just accepted to study with me in the MFA Program in Writing at California College of the Arts! So how fitting that tonight Audrey and I will be reading together at Bay Area Generations, curated by Maw! Get this – the suggested donation gets you a chapbook of the evening’s readings, including 2 stories about our black dads!

banner-img-1-965x595

Monday, April 20, 7:00 PM Doors Open, 7:30 Reading Starts

Bay Area Generations Reading in the beautiful library of the Berkeley City Club (see photos), 2315 Durant Avenue. Maw Shein Win is the guest curator for the evening and our fabulous readers include: Faith Adiele + Audrey Esquivel, Erica Goss + Amanda Williamsen, Ivan Arguelles + D.S. Black, Alexandra Kostoulas + Yvonne Campbell, Lynne Knight + Heather Bourbeau, Jon Sindell + Kristina Ten and Jack and Adelle Foley + Amos White. Organized by Charles Kruger and Sandra Wassilie.

More Faith-based Initiatives – with friends!

Standard

Wednesday March 18 – Reading/Interview

Along with longtime gal pal (and one of my first publishers!) Elaine Lee, author of Go Girl: The Black Women’s Book of Travel & Adventure, I’ll be reading for Our Voices, Our Stories: A Literary Reading Series Featuring Women of Color. I will then be interviewed on my e-book, The Nigerian Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems, by former student, gal pal and Our Voices founder Lisa Gray. 7:00-9:00PM, Mercury Café (behold its cuteness below), 201 Octavia St, San Francisco. Free and open to the public.

Merc.Outside72

Thursday March 19 – Film Screenings/Discussion

Seattle-based gal pal, activist and award-winning filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro and I will be screening and discussing our documentary films in a special program called Documenting the Diaspora: A Tanzanian-Korean-American & An Afro-Viking Go Home. 6:30-9:00PM, Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), 685 Mission St., San Francisco. The event is part of Third Thursdays, which means that both the (fabulous, newly-renovated) museum and films are free!

Earlier in the day, we’ll be co-presenting Filming Your Story: A Tanzanian-Korean Activist & Afro-Viking Writer Go Home at my workplace (FilmingYourStory flyer), 12:00-3:00 PM, California College of the Arts, Building B3, 5212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94618.

Friday March 20 – Film Screenings/Discussion

The next morning we’ll be screening the films for Mixed Roots: Mixed-Race Women Explore Their African Roots (Mixed Roots FLYER) in discussion with gal pal, writing partner and English Department Co-chair Jackie Graves. 10:00AM-12:00PM, Laney College, Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center, 900 Fallon Street, Oakland. The event, part of Women’s HERstory Month, is free and open to the public.

An afternoon event at Mills College TBA.

Whats your story

The Films

A LOT LIKE YOU (55 min and 82 min versions) During her first trip to Tanzania, Tanzanian-Korean-American Eliaichi Kimaro’s conversations with her aunts and uncles of the Chagga tribe address education, politics, social structure, tradition, history, marriage and rape. It is through the subject of sexual assault that Kimaro connects with her aunts and later with her parents, as together they unearth painful conversations to find some shared space to heal.

MY JOURNEY HOME (35 min) Born to and raised by a Nordic-American mother in the rural Pacific Northwest, Nigerian-Nordic-American Faith Adiele travels to Nigeria to meet her father and siblings for the first time. This film provides a layered, artful view of the intersections of multiracial identity formation, African decolonization, and Civil Right Era America.

Both films will be available for purchase at all events.

The Dukkha of Loving Others: Homophobia In Africa

Video

This year, we’ve asked some of our favorite dharma teachers, practitioners, and activists to reflect on the Four Noble Truths — suffering; the causes of suffering; cessation of suffering; and a path to cessation — from a systemic, social justice perspective. Here’s Faith Adiele on Homophobia In Africa.

My Igbo Sisters Initiate Interesting Model/Partnership

Standard

Umu-AdaIgbo, a social cultural organisation and initiative that serves as a rallying point for all black women across the globe who can trace their roots to Southeast Nigeria, plans to establish a specialist hospital.

The group’s Coordinator, Philomena Nnamani, stated this during the August home-coming meeting in Abia State. The home-coming event is a biennial meeting of Igbo women at home and in the Diaspora.

“We encourage all blacks in the Diaspora to establish links with their people at home in order to assist in empowerment and development projects,” she said.

Read more at Nigeria Daily Times

Opportunity to support African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies

Standard

Embarrassing – can you believe I forgot the password to my updated website and blog so haven’t been able to post?! (Not that I’m all that conscientious to start with – especially when tons of things are happening of the multiculti sort. Which sort of defeats the purpose. Ah well.)

Anyway, for the first time I’m championing a crowdfunding cause (1) because it supports publication of a book I’ve long been wanting to compile / read / teach and (2) because funders get a bar of gourmet chocolate! I don’t know any of the folks involved, so I’m not getting any chocolate kickbacks.

Click here to find out about African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies. Cool, huh?

The first book of its kind

As far as I know, no one has ever before published an anthology that brings
together a collection of African authors — men and women of all ethnic groups,
born and raised on the continent — telling the stories of their own lives in
their own words.

I Get Educated by The Education of Auma Obama

Standard

Last Friday, before heading out for a Buddhists of Color retreat (more on that later!), I attended opening night of the 8th Annual San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival. The fest opened with “The Education of Auma Obama,” a documentary by mixed, Nigerian-born filmmaker Branwen Okpako about Auma Obama, an impressive scholar-activist who happens to be the Kenyan older sister of our mixed president.

Okay, am I the only mixed girl who didn’t realize that the entire Obama family is mixed? Obama Senior had 3 wives: a young Kenyan girl (Auma’s mother), our President’s mother, and another white American named Ruth who raised their mixed kids in Kenya. Auma herself has a daughter by a white European; one of the Obama brothers lives in China; and I have at least met Maya Soetoro-Ng, the President’s half-Indonesian sister. In comparison, I feel positively pedestrian!

The film incorporates Auma’s own films and home video, including footage of a young Barack and then-fiancee Michelle on their first trip to Kenya, and is structured around the final days leading up to the U.S. presidential election, managing to capture the giddy pride all Africa felt at the prospect of the first black African U.S. president. (A lovely moment is when the family is dancing with cardboard cut-outs of Obama around the grave of his father. Oh, spoiler alert: he wins the election.) Ah, remember how excited we all were, thinking that this was a strike for racial parity, rather than an invitation to public figures to spout their racism in the media with impunity?

Watch African Women in Cinema’s video interview with filmmaker Branwen Okpako.

A Lot Like You

Standard

Talk about a coincidink! This documentary film by a Seattle-based woman with a Tanzanian father and Korean mother was playing at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival last week. So I loaded up about 10 Africans and their friends and checked it out. They kept leaning over and telling me, “This ‘A Lot Like You’ is a lot like you!” Indeed, with filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro‘s situating of her parents within African independence movements, it felt like a longer a version of My Journey Home. Perhaps even some of the same B&W Civil Rights footage appears.

But hers has an added surprise twist of domestic abuse. I was gratified that the African men in our group thought the film was fantastic. And they also noted that her parents were together – still – and make a lovely presence on screen. I’ve never seen my parents together. My favorite artistic bit happens around 0:26-0:28, where the filmmaker’s further mixed daughter staggers out of the grandparents’ traditional thatched hut, into a sunlight doorway, and disappears.

Afterwards, I introduced myself to Kimaro and told her my hope – that we could be a double feature at the Mixed Roots Fest this summer in Los Angeles. Wouldn’t that be cool?!