It is a long time coming, the elite African American citizenry of San Francisco and the extended Bay Area are trying their level best to make the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) a reality.
MoAD will be situated at 3rd and Mission and will be part of a brand new hotel. The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency with the backing of Mayor Willie Brown was instrumental in putting the package together. The MoAd facilitators plan is to have the Opening Day within two years and in the interim to raise about 8 million dollars.
VISION: through exhibitions, presentation and activities the Museum will draw people together - as a global village - to explore and appreciate the impact of people of African descent on contemporary life the world over.
Mission: The museum will connect all people through the culture and history of the African Diaspora in this region and the world.
Challenge: To create a Museum that tells the stories of the African Diaspora that is perceived as relevant, welcoming and inclusive to all ages, cultures, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Values and Principles:
- We will be a first voice museum, as we believe our stories - past and present - shape the future.
I have stated the main elements so that the readers can gauge for themselves and travel the route of reasoning, experience, and vision and arrive at their own conclusions. More, make some quality contributions.
It is important for everyone especially African Americans to contribute their talents and time to make this museum a reality. Each one of us should contribute our share to the UNIVERSE this concept transcends any parochial boundaries - be it local, national or international. Humanity and the beingness with the UNIVERSE can fully realize the meaning of the word DIASPORA.
Africa as we know it today was carved out at the end of the 18th century early 19th century. Africa is a continent with 55 countries, many tribes, languages, customs, and people as diverse as the Universe.
Our scientists refer to Africa as the home of human kind - Homo sapiens. The aboriginals from Australia, Africans in Brazil, those in Madagascar, the Dravidians from India, Africans in the Caribbean, in China, in the Polynesian Islands - every where once had their origins in Africa. From "Lucy" of Leakey fame all humankind!
Diaspora is a powerful word and becomes all the more powerful when the engine is fully powered to carry and travel with a multitude of elements - many of which have transformed and influence so many world cultures.
All of us know the influence of Egypt. Much before that there was a lost civilization in the region of present day Mali. Traces of the origins of Homo Sapiens are found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Angola, most everywhere in Africa.
Hannibal was from Africa and with his elephants influenced and humbled that area we call Europe today in his time. The Boors of South Africa though heavily armed with superior weapons fell prey to Zulus and other tribes of the region. The legendary Mau Mau sent shills through the veins of the British. The Moors from Africa influenced Spain and in one shot the Old World and the New World over a span of more than 800 years. Othello plays a prominent part and so do thousands of inventors by daughters and sons who had their origins in Africa.
Art from Africa has influenced the world. Today, most of the best art pieces sit in the British Museum. So many world artists have taken their inspiration from Africa. Fore most among them - Picasso.
Here in the United States Jazz and Baseball are two gifts given to the people of this Nation by those who had their roots in Africa.
In the early days the United States had no slaves. Whites and Blacks, others owned indentured laborers. Once the obligations were fulfilled they were set free. When some Whites decided that they wanted all the land and that Negroes were inferior beings according to norms believed by the Whites of those times - slavery came to being and enforced in the United States. Our Nation was built by slaves.
Much before SLAVERY Africans navigated the world. They had to because they knew how to sail and understood the movement of the winds. History has not been kind to African navigators but fair and intelligent historians and scholars fully understand their role, their travels, and their impact throughout the world.
Slavery is very demeaning and the experience very, very painful. I would prefer to die than be a slave to any other human being. I treasure my freedom.
The connection between slavery, slaves, and the Diaspora is meaningful as long as it can be uplifting. The task is difficult because it demands we deal with elements that are demeaning and painful. However, again and again there are stories where slaves triumphed and slave owners were disgraced. The single most tragic element of the slave era was disuniting the family. Creating an inferior class of human beings.
The word Diaspora has risen from the ashes and was given credence and worldwide publicity when linked with the Holocaust and the plight of the Jews. Some five years ago some African Americans linked the Diaspora of the African Americans to retribution by the U.S. government. MoAD has linked it to Movement and Adaptation of people of African origins and their contribution to the World.
MoAD is attaching itself to a powerful word and in doing so challenging the world to address various concepts with an engaging vision that will make a difference. The concept of MoAD is itself revolutionary, challenging, confrontational, but meaningful. It can be likened to the pangs of childbirth only to rejoice with life and a new beginning.
Diaspora according to me should do back to ground zero - go back to the land of the ancestors - go back to Africa. The " first voice " method is close enough to touch the present but far enough to go as close to the roots - where that voice arose.
Africa has always been the home of spirituality. This sense of spirituality should permeate the MoAD.
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. My understanding of Africa, the tribes, the languages, the culture knows no bounds. My travels all over the world with an open mind gave me a keen sense of the word " Diaspora" before it came to mean one thing and was interlaced to mean something else. MoAd is a challenge but one that the human mind and soul should embrace and fulfill.
In 1999, we organized the Summit On Africa in Washington DC We brought over 10,000 people to address Africa. The President, Bill Clinton, the then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, many other leading dignitaries embraced Africa. Some months later visits to Africa by these dignitaries bridged the gaps between the children of the Diaspora and their motherland.
The Summit on Africa gave some qualified reason to address AIDS or Slims Disease as it is called all over Africa. It prompted many Nations to forgive Africa and Africans of their Debt so that they could recover from their economic woes. It forced many Nations and the United States to evaluate " brain drain " and help Africa with Education, Health and Trade issues. The children of the Diaspora made all this possible.
We addressed land and land reforms in Africa. There can be no worth without land and a home be it in Africa or all over the world.
I have made it my project to work hard and inform the world about the Buffalo Soldiers. Blacks have fought before and after the Civil War. After the Civil War all Black regiments proved to be the best soldiers this Nation has ever produced. The name Buffalo Soldiers is recognized the World over. However, the story of the Buffalo Soldiers is tainted with half-truths and facts that are dubious in nature.
Buffalo soldiers traveled to far off places - their roles all over the United States is well chronicled. However very few know about their exploits in Canada and Alaska. In the Burma Theater. All over Europe where the Italians and French thank them daily for there rescue efforts during World War II. The Buffalo Soldiers played an important in the Spanish War and wrote the Standard Operating Procedures before the National Park Service came to being in 1916.
The Buffalo soldiers were good engineers, very good at logistics, excellent soldiers; they traveled and adapted themselves. They had character and one and all revered them. The Buffalo Soldiers have a Diaspora story of their own - little known to the world but waiting to announce their blue arrival with an authenticity that is very factual and historical. Bob Marley was kind enough to praise them in song. We still have some Buffalo Soldiers alive today - most of them in their 80s and 90s. I know they are looking forward to the day they will witness the opening of the Museum of the African Diaspora.
We have many African Americans who have contributed to the history of the African American community in San Francisco and the extended Bay Area. San Francisco City College, San Francisco State University, University of San Francisco, U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, many other institutions of learning should work closely to make the MoAd conception a reality with quality team work. The San Francisco American Historical and Cultural Society, Anthony Powell a historian, Ms Bibbs who enacts Mary Pleasantant, many who understand the Underground Railway and California, many African American pioneers who owned land on Pine and Bush Streets in San Francisco. We still have elders many make their abode in the Fillmore and others in the Bayview Hunters Point. Mrs Richardson from Marcus Bookstore, Espanola Jackson a political activist, we have baseball and football players, jazz and hip-hop musicians. Writers like Alice Walker, many others the list would be too long - the time has come to unite the African American community and make the reality of MoAd a living and progressive reality.
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