The brick-red firehouse, built in 1888 and empty since the FDNY abandoned it eight years ago, will be reborn as the new headquarters of the Caribbean Cultural Center/ African Diaspora Institute. The organization, which currently resides in Hell’s Kitchen, has spent years raising money for the project, the first phase of which involves a $5 million rehabilitation of the three-story Romanesque Revival building on East 125th Street, near Lexington Avenue. The former home of the FDNY's Fire Engine Company 36 in East Harlem New York will soon house the Caribbean Cultural Center?African Diaspora Institute. The transformation of a landmark Harlem firehouse into an academy for Afro-Caribbean studies is set to begin this spring.

That money is in the bank, but not enough for the $700,000 second phase, which will revamp the narrow space to accommodate a full-scale community-based group with a reception area, community room, performance space, offices, a shop and a café. The group originally wanted to add two floors to the firehouse, but dropped those plans after realizing how hard it would be to raise another $3 million to cover it.

“We’re pleased that in this difficult economic climate we are moving forward and people are supportive of it,” President Marta Moreno Vega said. “They're excited about the move.” Renovation work will begin in March or April, she said.

The project has had help from local elected officials, including City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation and Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The city has promised to transfer the property to the CCCADI for a dollar.

The agreement was part of a 2008 deal to find cultural uses for the firehouse, which was the longtime home of Fire Engine Company 36 until it and several other FDNY units weredecommissioned in a 2003 budget crisis. The building received landmark status in 1997.

To help finance the redevelopment project, the CCCADI has been trying to sell its West 58th Street brownstone, which went on the market last July with an asking price of $3.7 million and was soon discounted to $3 million, according to StreetEasy.com.

Vega said Friday that her group was in contract with a buyer, but would not say who it was.

“We are inching along but we’re confident that we will make it,” she said.

Source: dnainfo.com

roberto_cWhile December 31st, 2012 will mark the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s tragic death, his legacy continues to grow.  Without fail, each year there is a new book, documentary, web site or other commemoration of this fallen son of Puerto Rico.  Clemente’s role as a hero both in Puerto Rico and the United States may, however, may be the most important facet of his legacy.  Central to his status as a national hero in both countries, are the profoundly touching personal stories about Clemente that transcend time and space.  Many of these accounts are about brief meetings with Clemente, others about seeing him play or speak, still others happen after his death.  All, however, suggest that Clemente is a transcendent and transnational hero who remains one of the most important symbols of Puerto Rican and United States identity.

As part of my work on Clemente’s importance to both countries, I am collecting stories about him from anyone who is willing to share their personal reminiscence.  I want to include a wide range of these narratives in my essay, with the narrator’s permission, as part of my discussion of Clemente as a transnational Puerto Rican hero.

Since most of the stories I have been told about Clemente have been through conversations, I would welcome the opportunity to talk with individuals one on one by phone but I am also more than happy to accept written accounts.  All reminiscences are welcome; there is no limit on length or focus.  I ask only that you tell me why this connection to Clemente is important for you.  I will be gathering stories until the 20th of January and will send a final copy of my essay to all who contribute.  You can send me your story or inquiry by email to:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .                           

Source: Repeating Islands


premier-rasta475The documentary film Le Premier Rasta (The First Rasta), directed by Christophe Farnarier and French music journalist Hélène Lee in 2011, is based on the latter’s eponymous book, whichwas published by Flammarion in October 2010. The First Rasta presents a thorough investigation of Leonard Percival Howell (1893-1981), the initiator and catalyst of the Rastafari Movement and the man considered by many as its founder.

The film will receive its New York theatrical release in December 2011. The film premiered in Canada’s Montreal International Black Film Festival in late September 2011.

Description: At the beginning of the last century, the young Leonard Percival Howell (1893 - 1981) left Jamaica, became a sailor and travelled the world. On his way, he chanced upon all the ideas that stirred his time. From Bolshevism to New Thought, from Gandhi to anarchism, from Garveyism to psychoanalysis, he sought to find his promised land. With this cocktail of ideas Leonard "Gong" Howell returned to Jamaica and founded Pinnacle, the first Rasta community in 1939.

By recreating a backdrop of that time from film archives, police reports and newspaper articles, we follow in the wake of this adventurer and track the evolution of his thinking. Through direct witnesses we trace his evolution, from his return home in 1932 to the first manifestations of his movement. For the first time, these centenarian survivors describe a Rasta movement that is very different from the usual clichéd images. Their interviews, sparkling with humor and common sense, outline not only the silhouette of a great leader, but the daily struggle of a handful of men and women who stand without fear in the face of an all-powerful global system. An example of incredible moral courage at a time when black people in America and Africa were still considered to be sub-human and were subjected to forced labor and racial discrimination. They paid the price for this bold stand through relentless persecution and through systematic misinformation bent on making them look crazy - but this film sheds another light on their reality.

For more information, visit http://www.lepremierrasta.com/.

Source: Repeating Islands

drought_in_AfricaFollowing the ongoing drought and humanitarian crisis being faced in the Horn of Africa region, the Seychelles government has joined forces with civil society to show solidarity and raise money for the relief effort in the Horn of Africa. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Red Cross Society Seychelles (RCSS) launched a joint public appeal to the media earlier yesterday asking for public support and generosity to assist in the areas most affected, namely: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi. "The International Red Cross Federation has assessed the humanitarian situation and has asked all civil society to assist in mobilizing support for this crisis," said RCSS Vice President Mr. Ronny Renaud.

The Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, said that the government was proud to associate themselves with an organization like the Red Cross that has the experience and proven track record necessary to maximize the impact of the funds raised in Seychelles. The Minister also added that the people of Seychelles have shown solidarity with people in dire need before, as was the case with the Haiti appeal following the devastating earthquake of 2010, and he hopes that the Seychellois people will show the same support for its regional neighbors. "This crisis is the most grave we have seen in a generation, and it has a real international impact," said the Minister, “This region is one of instability and, as we no longer live in a closed-off insular world, we must play our part."

Well-known personality, Captain Francis Rouccou, also joined in the public appeal saying that he was happy to lend his voice and help sensitize people about the crisis and help disassociate the negativity associated with Somalia and the pirates that operate in the region. Capt. Rouccou, who was previously held hostage by pirates in Somalia for several months, said that it is important to help those in need in the region and that he hopes the illegal actions of a few do not deter public support.

The RCSS Vice President and Minister welcomed all fundraising activities from the public but stressed that, due to the cost of shipping and associated packaging of food and clothes donations, money would be the fastest and most effective way to get 100% of the donations to the people who need it most. Mr. Renaud said that special accounts had been set up for the appeal that will last for a month, after which a public audit will be held to ensure maximum transparency. Mr. Renaud also asked the public to ask all Red Cross volunteers collecting donations for the certified letter and photographic identification they should all be carrying. 

For more information, visit www.seychellesredcross.org. Please contact the RCSS directly for individual donations.

Red Cross Society of Seychelles
P.O. Box 53, La Ciotat Building, Mont Fleuri, Mahe, Seychelles
Tel: (+248) 374543/374544, Fax: (+248) 374546
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Source: eTurbo News

recon_statueOn August 20th a historic event will happen in Hampton as African Landing Commemoration Day will be celebrated for the first time with the World Day of Reconciliation and Healing from the Legacy of Enslavement. The City of Hampton has partnered with Project 1619 Inc. and Fort Monroe to commemorate the first landing of Africans to arrive in the New World on British occupied territory. The first Africans arrived at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe on August 20, 1619.

The American Theater in Phoebus will host a free symposium at 3:30 pm entitled “Dispelling the Myth of Jamestown”, an interactive audience and panel discussion on the historical misrepresentation of Africans in Virginia. Panelist for the 1st African Landing Commemoration Day and 2nd Annual World Day of Reconciliation include renowned local scholar and historian Dr. Bill Wiggins, Calvin Pearson of Project 1619 and Rev. Ronald Myers, Founder of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.

"As the descendants of Americans of African descent, our ancestors were brought to America in chains. This should never be forgotten," states Dr. Myers. "Millions lost their lives during the middle passage, not to mention the thousands killed from lynching and murders before and after the civil War. One ponders as to why so little attention has been given to our own history of death and destruction in America and the African Diaspora."

Following a Slave Trail Walk in Richmond, VA at 9:00am, the Reconciliation Statue, with locations in Richmond, Virginia, Liverpool, England and Benin, West Africa, will serve as the first gathering point for the first reconciliation and healing prayer service, at 11:00am. The statues were part of the Reconciliation Triangle Project, linking Europe, America and Africa. The group will then travel to Old Point Comfort, Fort Monroe, in Hampton, VA. A second reconciliation and healing prayer service that will take place at 2:00pm, at the historic marker where the first Africans landed in America, on August 20, 1619. At 6:00 pm the American Theater will host the Juneteenth Jazz Heritage, Reconciliation & Healing Concert. At 7:30 pm Fort Monroe will host the African Landing Commemoration Day Candlelight Ceremony. The event will take place near the fishing pier. Activities will include a prayer, libation, and lighting candles in  remembrance of the first 20 and odd Negroes who landed at Point Comfort.

During the unveiling service of the Richmond Reconciliation Statue a few years ago Cyrille Oguin of Benin told how in 1999 President Kerekou had launched a program of reconciliation between Africa, Europe and America by apologizing for his country's role in selling fellow Africans. Dr. Myers knows that prayer will be the most essential part of keeping the vision and work of reconciliation a potent force for healing in America and around the globe.

 For more information, visit www.project1619.org and www.worlddayofreconciliation.com.

nigerian_hotelThe chairman of the Grand Towers Plc, Mr. Nze Chidi Duru announced that the company will open 12 hotels within two years in Nigeria. Duru made the announcement in Abuja during the launching of the Abuja Grand Towers boutique hotel that will be opened in October this year which, he said, will change the face of hotels and hospitality in the capital city.

While briefing journalists, the chairman said that the evolving hospitality industry in the country and richness in culture motivated his idea to establish a standard 5 star boutique hotel that would satisfy the tourists from different part of the world.  He noted that the prevailing confidence in the vibrancy and strength of Nigeria's tourism and hospitality industry and the fact that typical hotel has changed significantly in the last couple of years, it is no longer enough to offer basic services to customers.  In order to meet the growing demand for exclusive boutique hotels in the country, Duru said the Grand Tower Boutique Hotels will be positioned to provide impeccable, comfortable, intimate and personalise services.

 According to the chairman, "Grand Towers Plc has entered into a joint venture with a South African Group, Mantis Hotel Group to manage and market the 12 hotels as well as support Grand Towers under the Mantis West Africa brand name.

 Apart from the Abuja hotel that will kick off in October this year, the company also announced that it has procured additional sites in Lagos, Enugu and Owerri to replicate the same kind of hotel in other states of the federation, adding that they will procure more locally and in other neigbouring countries.

 In his response, Chairman of Mantis Group, Mr. Adrian Gardner said the company is delighted to expand into West Africa and promised to answer the growing demand for exclusive boutique accommodation in Nigeria and the region as a whole.

 Meanwhile, the training of staff for the Abuja hotel which is slated for opening in October has begun, with the proprietor assuring that key positions would be occupied by Nigerians, apart from the Managing Director and General Manager of the hotels, with over 60 staff strength.

Source: Tourexpi.com

trophyThe online magazine AfricanDiasporaTourism.com (ADT) announces the launch of the African Diaspora World Tourism Awards. The official gala ceremony recognizing people who have made unique and significant contributions in the fields of culture and heritage tourism in the African Diaspora will take place in fall of 2012.                              

ADT publications editor Kitty J. Pope says that this type of award is needed because we have shining stars who have worked hard to push forth agendas related to black culture and heritage tourism.  "There is the annual World Travel Awards that is the 'Oscars' of the travel industry; but because of its uniqueness, I feel that a separate, special event is needed for the culture and heritage contributions of people of African descent," says Pope."So we have launched these awards to recognize people that work to develop, maintain and promote African Diaspora Tourism as a unique field in travel."

AfricanDiasporaTourism.com will award people for outstanding services as tour operators, travel planners, culture and heritage scholars and specialists, tourism ministers and CEO'S, as well as media and travel professionals. The African Diaspora World Tourism Awards will recognize politicians, government officials, notables and people of all races who have contributed to the development and promotion of culture and heritage tourism in the places of the African Diaspora worldwide. Awards will also be given to destinations, historic sites, accommodations, organizations, institutions and corporations for their contributions and achievements in black culture and heritage tourism.

African Diaspora World Tourism Awards will include such categories as best new heritage trail, black historic site of the year, pioneers in black heritage tourism as well as awards for volunteer and sustainable tourism. Hospitality awards will go to outstanding resorts, hotels, restaurants and chefs of the Diaspora.  The awards ceremony will also recognize outstanding carnivals, festivals and other culture tourism events related to black heritage and history.

AfricanDiasporaTourism.com is accepting requests from culture, heritage and tourism professionals and organizations interested in partnering to form the awards committee.  The first three stages 1) selecting categories, 2) nominations and 3) voting should be complete within the next 6 to 8 months. The recipients of awards will then be finalized along with plans for the event ceremony for the 2012 African Diaspora World Tourism Awards. Updates about this momentous event are forthcoming. For more information, or if you are interested in being a part of this project, please contact   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

south_africaWelcome news for leisure and business tourism to Cape Town is Air France’s announcement that they will commence direct flights to Cape Town from November, starting with three flights a week. This announcement comes at the back of Emirates’ addition of an additional daily flight to and from Cape Town from late last month. Air France and Emirates have extensive routes from both traditional source markets in Europe and new markets in the Middle East, and increased flights will add much-welcomed seat capacity to the Mother City. Earlier this year, Edelweiss Air had also announced a new seasonal flight program from Zurich to Cape Town with non-stop flights twice a week from the end of October 2011 for their winter timetable.

In order to sustain tourism in Cape Town, the aim is to counter seasonality with year-round inbound tourism. It is vital that flights to Cape Town remain consistent throughout the year. In an ever-changing world, time has become our most precious commodity. The availability of direct flights to Cape Town will influence traveler behavior and buying patterns and is critically important for the long-term sustainability of our business and leisure tourism industries.


touristboardContinental Airlines is launching twice-weekly nonstop service, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from Newark Liberty International Airport (ERW) to Curaçao International Airport (CUR), on December 18, 2010. The new, direct service makes Curaçao less than five hours away from Newark and an ideal destination for agents looking to offer clients more a unique Caribbean getaway, just in time for the holidays.

Continental Flight CO1862 will depart Newark at 8:50 a.m. and arrive in Curaçao at 2:40 p.m. Continental Flight CO1863 will depart Curaçao at 3:40 p.m. and arrive in Newark at 7:40 p.m. The flight schedule is as follows:

West African artist exhibit at the October Gallery in London

Julien_Si_artOctober Gallery in London presents Spirit Worlds, a bold new series of works by West African artist, Julien Sinzogan, in his first United Kingdom solo show.  The exhibition which opened at the gallery in latter September will be on display until the 6th of November.   The Sinzogan exhibit explores the theme of the Trans-Atlantic slavery and the spiritual return of long-lost African souls to their homeland.  It has attracted artists and art enthusiasts of different races from all over London and beyond.

Originally trained as an architect, Sinzogan creates an emotive atmosphere that takes viewers back in time to the horrors of the slave trade in his Spirit Worlds exhibit. His creation makes a bold statement on spirituality and the indestructibility of the African soul. Sinzogan use of painted pen-and-ink displays the astonishing, technical sophistication of a master draughtsman. His work is about the transmigration of African ‘soul’ – the persistence of her dreams, visions, ideas and unique cultural identities - across the Atlantic to the New World beyond.  It is also about the return of the spirits of slaves to the African shores.

To understand Sinzogan’s work, you must know a little about the ideas of West African groups such as the Yoruba and Fon peoples of Nigeria and Benin. In “vodoun” – one of the chief indigenous religions of Benin, it is understood that there exists a permanent link between the physical world and the invisible world of the spirit ancestors.  To appreciate Sinzogan’s work, you must understand its interpretation that spiritual ‘ancestors’ look out over the physical world.

Former President Bill Clinton gives thumbs up to construction of country’s first airport hotel.

bill_clintonPlans to develop a 240-room hotel on a 5.3-acre site adjacent to Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti are underway. Argentine entrepreneur Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, president of Basic Energy Ltd is spearheading a group of Caribbean developers to build Haiti's first airport hotel. The Haiti- based WIN Group, one of the country’s largest enterprises,   along with numerous other diversified entities will help with this project. The hotel property which will be independently operated is scheduled to be opened in 2012.

This is great news for Haiti tourism.  “Our goal is to encourage long-term sustainable investment in Haiti,” said former US President Bill Clinton, UN Special Envoy to Haiti and co-chair of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC). “An adequate network of hotels is crucial to the country, and this venture is one example that the numerous facets needed to rebuild Port Au Prince are slowly getting under way.”

The hotel is a $33 million, 240-room project that will consist of conference facilities for up to 400 people, a workout center, a pool, spa facilities, lounges and tropical landscapes. The developers plan to build the hotel to exceed international earthquake standards. The elegant hotel complex that will have a Creole feel, is projected to take 18 months to construct and will have an on-site power plant and its own water treatment and sewage facilities.

WIN Group Managing Partner Youri Mevs announced that this is such an important project on so many levels.    “Not only will it provide badly-needed hotel and conference facilities, but will employ hundreds of local workers in desperate need of generating revenue to support themselves and their families.”

Future developments such as commercial office and retail outlets are also expected to be constructed near the airport hotel.

slave_reconcilitory_statueOn August 20, 2010, the first World Day of Reconciliation and Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement was celebrated in Richmond, Virginia with most of the events taking place at the downtown Comfort Inn 

Leading one of the only known observances of Slavery Remembrance Day in the US is the Rev. Ronald  V. Myers, Sr., M.D., who is also the national leader of the "Modern Juneteenth Movement" in  America.

That morning attendees convened at the hotel to do the Richmond Slave Walk Trail. Afterwards they gathered at the Salve Reconciliation Statue for prayer followed by a Juneteenth  Flag Dedication Ceremony at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center.



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