The WOMEN OF A NEW TRIBE project is a photographic study of the spiritual and physical beauty of the black woman. It is an attempt to see in a new light and in a new way an incredible group of women. The women portrayed represent the Black American Woman in many of her social and physical manifestations. The subjects come from all walks and stages of life, they are mothers and daughters, artists, professionals, and community activists to name a few. Through the use of black and white photography done in a style reminiscent of the high glamour photography of 1930's and 40's Hollywood, the beauty of the black women is dramatically laid bare.

The exhibition which premiered at the Afro-American Cultural Center in Charlotte, NC on 14 June 2002 continues to travel widely around the United States. It also traveled twice to Europe when the U.S. Department of State hosted exhibitions in Bratislava, Slovakia and Bucharest, Romania in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Past venues for the exhibition include: Houston, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cleveland, Dallas, Toledo, Miami, Nashville, Birmingham, Detroit, Knoxville, Durham, Jackson MS, Newport News, Asheville, Yale University, University Of Arkansas, and Bucharest Romania. The venues for the exhibitions have ranged from the grand to the small. The project has been installed in the beautiful and magnificently ornate Charles H. Wright Museum Of African American History in Detroit and the humble Dunbar Carver Museum in Brownsville, TN my hometown. It has been shown in the incredible North Terminal Gallery of the Miami International Airport during ART Basel, the world's most important international show for modern and contemporary art and its has been presented by the Bertha M. Roddey Center for Art, Research and Education in Catawba, SC a small rural community south of Charlotte, NC. As of this writing, the exhibition continues to be in demand. In the beginning the project was an attempt to see in a new light and a new way the black women who inhabit the day-to-day lives of many Americans. Now after more than a decade and a half of touring the country and producing thousands of images, the project has become something more. It has become a composite, although incomplete, of the modern American Woman of color.

  If you seek a an inspiring exhibition that will engage your community,  the WOMEN OF A NEW Project is worthy of your consideration.   Learn more at  www.blackartphotoart.com or contact us at email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or phone: 980.236.7171.        Jerry Taliaferro, Photographer


Kris C Hou



                                   Krissie reviews Ethiopian Diaspora Chef Marcus Samuellson's C-House Fish and Chops in Chicago!

If I could pick just three words to describe the delicious food at C-House Fish & Chops, of course, besides "delicious", then "creative," "fun" and "fresh," would be the first that come to mind. I recently had the pleasure of dining at this fairly new, downtown Chicago restaurant, and I would go so far as to say that besides going to the dentist regularly, eating here was quite simply the best thing I've ever done for my palette.
On a narrow street nestled in between a mix of modern and historic buildings in the Streeterville District and just a couple blocks from Chicago's famous Michigan Avenue, sits the C-House. The sleek and polished interior, designed by Arthur Casas, is indeed beautiful, though not differing from what you would expect at any modern, upscale restaurant. Instead, as I would soon discover, it is the sophisticated tastes of Chef and Owner Marcus Sammuelson that set this restaurant apart.

As it was a nice summer day, I opted to sit outside on the street-level patio. With just the right amount of sun and the cool, cityscape view, the patio provided a seductive, urban setting.

The lunch menu, which changes often, is divided into several categories including the C-Bar, which is a mix of small, seafood -based plates, appetizers, sandwiches, flatbreads, entrees, and sides. Each dish was a playful, but balanced symbiosis of both cooked and fresh elements with many ingredients picked straight from the chef’s local garden.
First, I ordered from the C-bar a dish called the C-Bar Taste of 3. It was a delicious introduction to the C-House’s edgy cuisine. On a rectangular plate that was divided into three sections was a crunchy yellowtail taco, followed by spicy cobia ceviche, and last was pickled herring. The ceviche, a mixture of fresh chunks of cobia and citrus juices, was served with golden tortilla chips for dipping, and of these first three items, it was the most incredible. My next favorite was the yellowtail taco served on a bed of seasoned freeze-dried corn. “Freeze-dried” definitely isn’t the most appetizing word, but, with its African spices and melt-in-your mouth texture, it went surprisingly well with the taco. Last, the pickled herring was good, but not crazy good. I imagine on another day, it would have hit the spot, but on this particular day, it just wasn’t what I was craving.
The tuna trio came out next: one poached, one grilled, and one crudo style (think sashimi with citrus). What a fun, yet simple way to experience three different styles of tuna.

C_House_InteriorWe all know nothing is better than a fresh, crunchy salad, so be sure to try the heirloom apple salad while at C-House. This is what I mean by fun, fresh food. A string of mustard-seed garnish sits beside a tuft of mustard greens topped with thin slices of sweet apples and gouda cheese. Underneath this green heap of goodness is a chunk of sourdough bread. Normally, sourdough isn’t my favorite kind of bread, but with this dish, it created the perfect combination of sweet and sour, which is a key element in a good salad.

Now octopus is another thing I would not normally order, but since the server recommended it, I decided to give it a try.  Grilled and served on a bed of greens, the octopus was delicious. It didn’t have the rubbery texture that I was expecting, and that just-off- the- grill taste went perfectly with the watercress and kohlrabi, a type of cabbage.

The flatbread is perfect for those who find usual sandwich bread too thick or those who don’t want to take in too many carbs. Or for those of us who just want something that tastes damn good. It’s slightly thicker than a cracker, with a slightly softer texture, and—since it’s drizzled with olive oil—a hell of a lot more taste. The menu offered three different kinds: smoked trout, bacon and roasted apple with onion, and the tomato and buffalo milk ricotta. They each sounded equally delicious, and after the first three dishes you might think I would have been sick of seafood, but nope. I went with the smoked trout. Best decision ever. Topped with golden beets, red beets, and tender chunks of smoked trout with dollops of cream cheese in between a bed of arugula, the smoked trout flat bread was definitely my favorite thing on the lunch menu.  If you don’t do anything else with your life, try this sandwich. It’ll make it all worthwhile.

All in all, C-House gets an A. Each ingredient is perfect right down to the smallest mustard seed. If you’re in the Chicago area and you want fun, fresh, creative, and of course, delicious food, that’s just around the corner from Chicago’s other main downtown attractions, C-House is a must. The cheapest items on the lunch menu are sides at $6 while the most expensive is an entrée steak at $26. Sandwiches, appetizers, and flatbreads hover around $8-$15. Happy Eating in the Windy City.

Fore more info, visit www.C-HouseRestaurant.com. For more info, on Chef Marcus Samuellson, visit www.marcussamuelsson.com/

The newly formed Chineke orchestra aims to include a work by a composer of ethnicity in each of its concert programmes. John Lewis looks at some of the neglected writers whose music might finally get an airing:

sam Coleridge 

In the past 200 years, dozens of prominent black composers from America and other parts of the African diaspora have fought to be recognised by the western classical tradition. The earliest example is Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-99). Born in Guadeloupe, the son of a wealthy plantation owner and a female slave, Saint-George was brought to France at a young age. As well as being a champion fencer, a violin teacher to Marie Antoinette and a colonel in the republican army, his prodigious musical talents led to him being dubbed “le Mozart noir”. He was a prolific composer (with several operas, 15 violin concertos, symphonies and numerous chamber works to his name) and a rare French exponent of early classical violin composition. 


Saint-Georges would have perhaps come into contact with George ridgewater(1778-1860), a violinist of African origin born in present-day Poland. By the age of nine, his father (who was probably born in Barbados) had taken him to London, where he was shown off as a child prodigy, performing in front of the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George IV. Several of Bridgewater’s compositions survive, although few have been recorded. His story was also the basis for a 2007 opera, written by Julian Joseph. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was born in Croydon, the son of a white English mother and a Creole man from Sierra Leone. As a violin scholar at the Royal College of Music, he was taught composition under Charles Villiers Stanford and soon developed a reputation as a composer, with Edward Elgar recommending him to the Three Choirs festival in 1896. By the time he died of pneumonia – aged only 37 – he had already toured America three times and performed for Theodore Roosevelt at the White House. Compositions such as Coleridge-Taylor’s African Suite attempted to incorporate African influences in the same way that, say, Dvorák used Hungarian folk themes, but much more successful is Hiawatha’s Wedding, which is occasionally performed today. Even better are Coleridge-Taylor’s works for violin and orchestra, which are elegant pieces of fin de siècle romanticism. As Alex Ross observes in his study of modern classical music, The Rest Is Noise, the history of African American composition around the turn of the 20th century is full of sorrowful tales.  Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954) founded Harlem’s Negro Grand Opera Company, but his two all-black Wagnerian operas are barely staged. Maurice Arnold Strothotte (1865-1937) studied in Berlin and wrote an opera and a symphony that were highly praised by Dvorák, but his work was rarely performed and has all but dropped off the musical map – he ended up making his living teaching violin and conducting provincial operettas. Like Strothotte, Will Marion Cook (1869-1944) also studied in Berlin and was praised by Dvorák. He was acclaimed for his Broadway shows and ragtime-influenced songs, but found it almost impossible to break into “straight” composition. Most sorrowful of all was Scott Joplin (1867-1917). The son of an ex-slave from Texas, he started as a travelling musician around the southern states, playing piano in “gentleman’s clubs”. By the turn of the century his piano rags, such as Maple Leaf Rag, had become a national sensation, but he was desperate to be taken seriously as an orchestral composer. His opera Treemonisha was all but ignored, and he died insane in 1917 after his brain was destroyed by syphilis.Other black American composers had happier endings. William Grant Still (1895-1978) wrote 150 works, studied with Edgard Varèse, was the first African American to conduct a major US symphony orchestra (the New Orleans Philharmonic), composed for Hollywood and found his works performed by leading orchestras around the world, including his 1930 Afro-American SymphonyAnd George Walker, born in 1922 and still working today, was the first black American composer to win the Pulitzer prize for music (for Lilacs, a piece for voice and orchestra, in 1996). However, for all his acclaim, he still remains a cult figure in the world of contemporary composition.  (Top photo Samuel Coleridge-Taylor) - Orginal Source - http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/jun/02/ten-black-composers-whose-works-deserve-to-be-heard-more-often?CMP=share_btn_fb



Our thanks to Peter Jordens for this information.

batchaBachata is a dance and genre of music that originated in the countryside and rural neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century and has now spread to Europe and the United States.

Its worldwide popularity is a great achievement for the DR and, this week, the government took the next step to honor bachata by passing a law that declares it part of their cultural heritage.

Under the new law, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for promoting, disseminating, and expanding bachata. The law requires Dominican embassies, consulates and missions all over the world to take action and promote bachata abroad.

“[This law] is meaningful because it contributes to the value and preservation of this important Dominican Republic musical expression,” Minister of Culture José Antonio Rodríguez said.

For the original report go to http://www.pangeatoday.com/dominican-dance-declared-cultural-heritage

In Commemoration of the late great dr-ben (Dr. Ben), AD-Tourism post this obituary by Sam Kestenbaum that appeared in The New York Times.

The faded plaque to the right of the door said “Jochannan, Yosef B.,” but visitors to this nursing home on the northern edge of the Bronx knew the frail 96-year-old inside by another name: Dr. Ben.

As a sign of respect, many would also bend down on one knee.

The room was covered in mementos from a life spent between continents, weaving together the threads of the African diaspora: honors and awards, photos of Egyptian statues, kente cloth, a mug decorated with hieroglyphs and piles of letters from admirers and acolytes.

Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan seemed unaware of the shrine that had accumulated around him. His eyes were barely open. He sat hunched in his wheelchair, dressed in baggy pants, a faded purple sweatshirt and a kufi.

One of his daughters held his hand; a granddaughter showed him photos of her own child on a cellphone.

Though he now had difficulty speaking, exhausted by even the smallest effort, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was once a powerful orator and a prolific author, one of the most vital and radical Afrocentric voices of his generation.

And he may have been the last. On March 19, Mr. Ben-Jochannan died, leaving behind 13 children from three marriages and a generation of intellectuals and activists who looked to him for guidance.

His life spanned eras. When Mr. Ben-Jochannan was born, Africa was largely under colonial rule, the Voting Rights Act was a half-century away and the lynching of black Americans was at its peak.

To some, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was a sage, a self-taught scholar who dedicated his life to uncovering the suppressed history of a people, challenging narratives that had written Africa out of world history.

In the 1960s, Mr. Ben-Jochannan emerged as prominent figure in Harlem, pushing his anticolonial message to its limit, claiming that the very foundations of Western civilization, including Greek philosophy, Judaism and Christianity, were African in origin. He regularly lectured to crowded auditoriums; he was a disciple of Marcus Garvey and a confidant of Malcolm X, and he appeared on stages with Amiri Baraka, Al Sharpton, James Brown and Louis Farrakhan.

“He is a kind of godfather to all of us in African and Afro-American studies,” Cornel West, the author and activist, said. “I salute him. I was blessed to study at his feet.”

And yet to others Mr. Ben-Jochannan was an impostor and a historical revisionist. The Anti-Defamation League, troubled by books of his with titles like “We the Black Jews: Witness to the ‘White Jewish Race’ Myth,” stopped just short of calling him an anti-Semite.

His work, the group once wrote, was “blatantly inaccurate” and “unworthy of any educational institution.”

But Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s legacy is not confined to academic debate. As part of his enterprise, he took thousands of black Americans on tours of the Nile Valley, to visit the pyramids and temples of ancient Egypt, where he always took special care to point out the faces on statues and shapes of the figures in hieroglyphs.

Asked in the weeks before his death what drove him to make these repeated pilgrimages to Egypt, Mr. Ben-Jochannan cleared his throat and answered very slowly. “I wanted people to see their faces were the same,” he said.
ben book

Mr. Ben-Jochannan was born, he claimed, in Ethiopia, to an Ethiopian Jewish father and a Puerto Rican mother (herself from Yemeni Jewish stock). But there is little evidence for that other than his own word; some peers, and even a family member, have privately expressed doubts.

Most accounts agree that wherever he was born, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was raised in the Caribbean and moved to New York City around 1940.

Harlem at that time was swirling with various strains of black nationalism in the wake of Mr. Garvey’s pan-Africanist movement. This is where Mr. Ben-Jochannan found his voice, holding impromptu lectures in city squares and talks at community centers. He later began teaching at Harlem Prep, an experimental school that opened in 1967, and at Malcolm-King: Harlem College Extension, a two-year liberal arts school, in the 1970s and ’80s.

Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s self-published books — around 20 volumes in total, with titles like “Africa: Mother of Western Civilization” and “Black Man of the Nile and His Family” — were collaged with hieroglyphs and hand-drawn maps. Ignored by academia, they became staples in Afrocentric libraries.

“I consider Dr. Ben the greatest of the self-trained historians,” said Paul Coates, founder of Black Classics Press, who would later work as Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s publisher. “There’s still no one like him.”

Having already established a reputation among African-Americans, in 1973 Mr. Ben-Jochannan joined Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center (at the time only four years old), in Ithaca, N.Y., as a visiting professor.

He was a distinguished figure at the Africana Center, eventually becoming an adjunct over his 15-year affiliation with Cornell. A painted portrait of Mr. Ben-Jochannan still hangs at the school.

During that period, Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s 15-day trips to Egypt, billed as “Dr. Ben’s Alkebu-Lan Educational Tours,” using what he said was an ancient name for Africa, were more popular than ever. They typically ran three times a summer, shuttling as many as 200 people to Africa per season. In 1987, one ticket, all expenses paid, was $1,545.

“I was always taught that the ancient Egyptians were Caucasian,” saidAnthony T. Browder, who traveled with Mr. Ben-Jochannan in the 1980s. But in southern Egypt, Mr. Browder saw a statue of a pharaoh that left him speechless. “The face is African,” said Mr. Browder, who is the director of the IKG Cultural Resource Center, an organization devoted to the “rediscovery and application” of ancient African history. “It was mind-blowing, evidence of African greatness, thousands of years before our ancestors were enslaved.”

In accounts of his own life, some of Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s embellishments seemed to serve a larger purpose: gesturing to a distant past, establishing a grand narrative and creating a nearly mythic public persona. Others appear to be mere falsehoods or plain deceit.

Documents from Malcolm-King College and Cornell show Mr. Ben-Jochannan holding a doctorate from Cambridge University in England; catalogs from Malcolm-King College list him holding two master’s from Cambridge. According to Fred Lewsey, a communications officer at Cambridge, however, the school has no record of his ever attending, let alone earning any degree. Similarly, the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, where he also said he had studied, has no records of his enrollment.

It’s not clear whether employers had ever looked into Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s qualifications.

“People condemn me for not being an intellectual of the Ph.D. type,” Mr. Ben-Jochannan once said, reacting to questions later raised about his résumé. While he used the “white man’s credential” to go “certain places,” Mr. Ben-Jochannan said, he refused to “let the white man certify” his work.

Though beyond reproach to most acolytes, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was challenged publicly by classical scholars like Mary Lefkowitz, now a retired professor at Wellesley College. While Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s work was rooted in a desire to undo the damage done by colonial historians, Ms. Lefkowitz said, he was simply offering pseudohistory as an alternative.

“It’s a myth of conspiracy: ‘White people have taken away history and hidden the truth,’ ” Ms. Lefkowitz said. “But it’s all more complicated than that.”

Mr. Ben-Jochannan seemed unfazed by criticism.

“I don’t care whether white colleagues appreciate me as a historian or not,” he wrote once. “I’m writing for the African person all around the world.”

In the next decades, as most of his peers died, Mr. Ben-Jochannan emerged as the elder statesman of Afrocentrism. But like any vanguard, he may have been a victim of his own success, eclipsed by the younger intellectuals he influenced.

“That entire generation of self-trained historians really gave me my first sense of skepticism,” Ta-Nehisi Coates, an editor at The Atlantic, and the son of Paul Coates, Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s publisher, wrote in an email.

“What people like Dr. Ben were saying was, ‘History is not this objective thing that exists outside of politics,’ ” Mr. Coates wrote. “ ‘It exists well within politics, and part of its job has been to position black people in a place of use for white people.’ And that notion of skepticism goes with me in all of my work. It runs through everything I do.”

For the original report go to http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/nyregion/contested-legacy-of-dr-ben-a-father-of-african-studies.html

See also: http://nazret.com/blog/index.php/2015/03/25/ethiopia-noted-historian-and-scholar

carib creo“Erasing blood of past, shifting Afro-Caribbean narratives,” is a piece by political science major Margarita Rosario. Her column, A Woman's Place is in Politics, is published every other week by The Daily Targum (Rutgers University’s student-written and student-managed newspaper). Here, she explores language, linguistic creolization,

The vast history of linguistic creolization in the Americas finds its origin in the forced and violent encounter between African peoples and their European conquerors. From this origin we can trace the development of dialects which today we disparage as “broken” or “ghetto,” aberrant from European notions of propriety, lacking in linguistic sophistication, purged of semiotic and intellectual value –– non-human. The linguistic marker that today distinguishes “civilized” from “uncivilized” communities amounts to the perhaps traumatic experience of being an Afro-descendant in the United States as well as in Latin America.

[.. .] “Creolization,” as many before me have put it, can be described as the historical process of intermixing between African and European cultures, easily conceptualized and empirically attested as having harsher consequences for African-descending communities, as creolization is a forced process of cultural, religious, aesthetic and linguistic adaptation to dominant cultures. The necessary process of creolization (for purposes of survival and adaptation) should itself be taken as part of the African diasporatic history, as part of what makes our language, our cultures and even as that which unites Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latinos, Africans and Afro-Americans under one umbrella of linguistic oppression, and in that way, under one unified potentiality for linguistic liberation.

Jamila Lyiscott’s Ted Talk “Three ways to speak English” offers a beautiful exploration into how we may learn to free ourselves of the linguistic barriers of dominant culture. Emerging from an Afro-Caribbean background, Lyiscott poetically elucidates what it is to be “articulate” in America and why we are to reject that notion and force in its place a notion of “articulateness” that is multi-lingual, multi-cultural and benevolent to creolized tongues. She recites, “Yes, I have decided to treat all three of my languages as equals. Because I’m 'articulate.' But who controls articulation? Because the English language is a multifaceted oration. Subject to indefinite transformation,” and later continues, “The reason I speak a composite version of your language. Is because mine was raped away along with my history. I speak broken English so the profusing gashes can remind us. That our current state is not a mystery.” No, our current state is clear as day, felt every day in every way. Carriers of my blood, descendants from the Nile: I know you will understand.

If you do not, allow me to illustrate: The repression of language has functioned to erase Haitian-descendants from Dominican lands in the Trujillo Era (see “perejil test”), has functioned to erase African-American dialogue and slave narratives from the literary canon, has functioned to erase ghetto-discourses from comfortably residing outside of “ghetto” spaces, has functioned to impede black Americans from achieve voter status, has functioned to make each time my father is unfairly stopped by the police a moment of derogatory surveillance, has functioned to make my brothers feel unsafe in the presence of authority, has functioned to erase the music, literature and poetry that is marked with authenticity and has functioned to erase the history that is ours. [. . .]

Source: Repeating Islands

For full article, see http://www.dailytargum.com/article/2015/03/erasing-blood-of-past-shifting-afro-caribbean-narratives

Uganda tops African countries in the production and exportation of organic products. This is according to International Federation for Organic Movement (IFOAM) based in Germany. The value of organic products export rose from $4m (about sh11b ) in 2003 to $44m (about sh121b) in 2013 in the latest released data. “This is impressive growth,” Chariton Namuwoza, the chief of value chains and programme with National Organic Agriculture Movement of Uganda said.

He was speaking to the New Vision on the side-lines of the end of party for organic farmers in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb on Saturday. Namuwoza attributed Uganda’s performance to its having a high number of certified organic farmers as well as favourable climate and good soil. He explained that Uganda takes the lead in organic farming next to India at global level.

Organic farming is not traditional farming, but it integrates modern and traditional knowledge for sustainable farming systems. Uganda-leads-in-OrganicHe said organic farming is the way to go because it’s free from genetic modification.

He advised farmers from Masindi, Mubende, Nakasongola, Luwero and Masaka to maintain high quality that meets international standards.

Namuwoza underlined the importance of organic farming as more profitable.

“Organic food can’t be grown with genetically engineered seeds.

“Other advantages of organic farming are nontoxic chemicals applied which increases biodiversity,” she said.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

Source: New Vision

Benin-Museum-300x225From left, a 19th-century terra-cotta head; a brass figure that was part of an altar dedicated in 1914; a 4-foot tall wooden figure that was in the Oron Museum until at least 1970. Eight Nigerian artifacts that were probably stolen decades ago and illegally sent to the United States have been returned to the West African country by the Museum of Fine Arts, according to museum officials, who said Nigerian authorities planned to announce the transfer on Thursday.

The decision to return the artworks, including a 2,000-year-old terra-cotta head, was the culmination of an 18-month pursuit through dusty records and old gallery brochures, untangling an art-world mystery that spanned several continents. Along the way, the MFA discovered that one item, a brass altar figure, had probably been stolen from the royal palace in Benin City as recently as the 1970s.

Benin Museum 2All of the works were purchased by the late Marblehead collectors William and Bertha Teel, longtime supporters of the MFA, whose 2013 bequest gave the museum more than 300 works. The couple, according to the museum, had no idea of the shady provenance of items in their collection.

The Teels’ gift to the MFA included access to the couple’s papers, which helped the museum investigate the ownership histories and determine that the pieces should be returned.

That sleuthing and repatriation earned praise from specialists who have, in the past, slammed the MFA for having lax standards in dealing with works with dubious histories. The specialists say the museum has become a national leader in researching historic works and voluntarily returning them when they’re found to have questionable ownership histories.

“It’s very impressive,” said Patty Gerstenblith, the DePaul University College of Law professor who serves as chairwoman of the President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee. “The MFA is pretty out-front.”

Benin Museum 3Most museums don’t make much of an effort when they acquire new works, other than to post images of them online so that anybody with concerns about the history of the art can respond. The MFA has gone beyond that, Gerstenblith said. The MFA now voluntarily and rigorously researches object histories and, if one is determined to be questionable, will find a way to make amends.

All of this is relatively new in the museum field. Many American museum collections were built by swashbuckling curators and wealthy collectors who cared little about how pieces were acquired, as long as they ended up on display in a gallery. Such works included everything from priceless antiquities potentially looted from ancient archeological sites to paintings stolen by the Nazis, funneled through art dealers, and purchased during and after World War II.

But changes have come in the last decade, driven by pressure from outside the United States to return looted works as well as a slew of new ethical guidelines put in place by museums and museum associations.

The MFA, in its effort to be particularly aggressive in investigating questionable works, made Victoria Reed the first full-time museum curator of provenance in the United States in 2010, and she played a key role in researching the artifacts from the Teels. The MFA’s investigation into the Teels’ works began about 18 months ago.

Chris Geary, the musem’s then-curator of African and Oceanic art, started by sorting out the collectors’ records, which were stuffed in cardboard boxes. Geary then handed those files off to Reed. William and Bertha Teel’s collection included this terra-cotta head from Nigeria dating to 500 B.C. to 200 A.D.

Reed examined Nigeria’s export laws, which require that the government approve any antiquities being removed from the country. She almost immediately began to doubt the authenticity of some of the bills of sale and export licenses from Nigeria that came with the works. “Some of these jumped out pretty quickly,” Reed said.

But shoddy paperwork wasn’t the only factor. Suspicions have long existed surrounding many antiquities from Africa. Terra-cotta heads, for example, are on the“red list” of various types of works at risk for looting compiled by the International Council of Museums.

While the true path of the works from Nigeria to the MFA remains sketchy, there were other clues that Reed pursued. A photo of a 4-foot-tall wooden ancestral figure in a catalog places it at the Oron Museum in Nigeria as late as 1970. The next time it appeared in records was in 2001 at Galerie Walu in Zurich. Teel bought it from the dealer three years later. As for the Benin altar figure, it was probably stolen from the royal palace in 1976, according to Reed. The Davis Gallery in New Orleans acquired it in 1997, selling it to Teel two years later.

Research in hand, Reed contacted Nigeria’s National Commission of Museums and Monuments to confirm that the works had not been approved for export and that some of the paperwork had been forged. The commission confirmed the findings and requested the works be returned.

William Teel had served as an MFA overseer from 1990 until his death, and he and his wife, Bertha, were eminent benefactors of the museum, giving more than $5 million in art and cash over time. Teel was also a trustee at the Peabody Essex Museum for more than two decades. William Teel died in December 2012, leaving the MFA 308 objects. The Teels had already given the MFA a terra-cotta head in 1991, and they made a partial gift of a memorial screen in 1996. Reed said she doesn’t blame the collectors for the problems with their gift.

“Mr. Teel purchased these on good faith,” she said. “He didn’t have a provenance researcher, so I don’t think we can really hold him up to the same standards. He certainly bought these fully believing they were on the market legally.” Reed said that the blame also shouldn’t rest with the dealers who sold the works to the Teels — galleries in New Orleans, Brussels, Zurich, and France — as they believed the works were sold legitimately.

But this isn’t the first time questions had been raised about the Teels’ collection. In 1997, two works from Mali purchased by the couple made headlines when they were featured in an exhibition at the MFA. The Boston Globe, as part of a series detailing how looted pieces ended up in museum galleries, asked the MFA for information about the ownership history of those works. The museum would not provide it, even after demands from the government of Mali.

Those two works, which were part of the 2013 bequest, are still being reviewed by the MFA, Reed said. That’s encouraging news for Susan K. McIntosh, the Rice University anthropologist and Malian archeology expert who criticized the museum in 1997 for failing to release ownership histories.“Cultural values and perspectives change very slowly over time, and this is something we’ve been struggling with for decades,” said McIntosh. “The decision to voluntarily repatriate is one more signal we’re moving in the right direction.”

During Reed’s tenure, in which she began as a researcher in 2003, the MFA has returned 26 works in all, from pieces plundered during World War II to objects taken illegally from Italy.

Boston University archeology professor Ricardo Elia, a critic of the MFA in the past for its collection practices, said the museum should be applauded this time. The key shift, he says, is that the museum appears to have changed its philosophy when viewing artworks with incomplete ownership histories.

“In the past, they said the burden is on you to prove,” he said. “In this case, it’s different. There’s just enough suspicion and doubt and the absence of an export license. It shows the MFA is trying to be a good citizen.”

Source: ATQ News


jamaica park

Monuments in the Afrikan World: "Redemption Song" is located at the entrance to Emancipation Park in uptown Kingston.

Opened in 2002 in New Kingston, Jamaica's Emancipation Park serves as a tribute to the history of the people of Jamaica from Slavery and Bondage to Indpendence. The park features fountains, statues and symbols that reflect the rich and diverse culture of Jamaica and was designed by architect Kamau Kambui.
The most prominent statue in the park is the Independence Monument. This statue of a nude male and female with water flowing over the base, was done by artist Laura Facey with the assistance of about 100 artisans and craftsmen. The majority of the material used to create the park and the buildings located within the park are of Jamaican origin and indigineous to the country.

Throughout the park you will also find numerous Adinkra symbols which serve as a tribute to the West African ancestry of the people.

manleymandelasAccording to AtlantaBlackStar.com in "10 Amazing Facts about Jamaica," if people look beyond stereotypes and the reputation of Jamaica as a poor country, they will see numerous success stories among Jamaicans and their descendants—I would have started by mentioning Mary Seacole (or even earlier heroic figures), but the article focuses on the 20th century and the present. Some of the figures mentioned are billionaires such as Michael Lee-Chin, noted politicians such former Prime Minister Michael Manley, famous entertainers and athletes (that I need not list here), and important figures in the Diaspora such as Colin Powell, Louis Farrakhan, Harry Belafonte, among others. It also highlights its often progressive political and cultural influence, historical events, and its nature. The Jamaica Observer summarizes here:

Although Jamaica isn’t a particularly rich country, it has created some of the most successful business people in the Caribbean, including Michael Lee-Chin, one of the first Caribbean billionaires, and Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, who revolutionised the hotel industry with his “all-inclusive” luxury hotel chain Sandals, the website said.

AtlantaBlackStar.com also said that by virtue of Jamaica's location, the island is primed to become the economic hub for trade between the West and the rest of the world.

Jamaica's Diaspora power also made the list, with the website stating: "Estimates sometimes point to there being as many Jamaicans outside the island nation as there are in it, with 1.7 million in the US, Canada and the UK alone. Native Jamaicans and their descendants are often in influential positions internationally, the website added, citing former US Secretary of State Colin Powell as one such individual.

bob_marley_dread-fly1-600x446Jamaica's music industry was not to be left off the list, with the website saying the island's "socially conscious music serves as the soundtrack to various socio-political movements in Jamaica and the broader world". The website also said Jamaica's music industry is one of the most "influential in the world" with popular dancehall artists like Beenie Man and Sean Paul constantly topping charts across the world and selling out stadiums all over Europe and Asia.

Jamaica's athletes also made the list but the island's athletic supremacy is well known so OBSERVER ONLINE will instead look further at another among the 10 Amazing Facts about Jamaica: the island's geo-politics.

According to AtlantaBlackStar.com, "Although smaller compared to countries like the US, Jamaica has been a global thought-leader in politics... Jamaica was at the forefront of the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa. It was also the first country to declare a trade embargo against South Africa, as early as 1957." The website also said Jamaica has "historically not been afraid to go against the grain politically" which is most evident by the election of former Prime Minister Michael Manley who pushed for economic equality for all developing nations, "even when his positions were unpopular with the US".

AtlantaBlackStar.com, which says it endeavours "to cover the global black community with timely, relevant, sophisticated stories", rounded off their 10 Amazing Facts about Jamaica with the island's population, cultural influence, heroes and heroine, historical narrative, and nature.

Source: Repeating Islands

[Photo of Manley and the Mandela's from http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130612/news/706129914/photos/EP38/]

For full article, see http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Amazing-facts-about-Jamaica-in-the-eyes-of-others

See the original article at http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/11/14/10-amazing-facts-jamaica/