December 16, 2014

New E-book: Twelve Poems and A Story for Christmas

The poems describe the journey of a newlywed couple, Mary and Joseph, to their ancestral homeland where they are to be registered in a census decreed by a tyrant. Mary is pregnant and Joseph knows that the child she is carrying is not his. As they travel through the harsh landscape, they are joined by strangers who have been summoned by dreams, visions, and supernatural events to bear witness to a child whose birth they are told is destined to change the course of human history.

In "A Miami Christmas Story" Raymond Allen, a despairing musician and family man, wrestles with his pride that is both the source of his sorrow and redemption. 

Twelve Poems and a Story for Christmas explores the inner lives of characters that surround this perennial story and reveals a human dilemma: to find meaning behind the events in our lives.

December 15, 2014

Mary's Journey

If only Joseph had listened when she told him
one of those three kings, she couldn’t tell which, 
was a harbinger of trouble. But Joseph, being Joseph

couldn’t turn away strangers lest they be angels
from God and welcomed them. The Magi showered
gifts on the newborn, but when they left, 

Mary discovered they had given the child
more than gold, frankincense, or myrrh.
Now she had to trudge through the village, 

to find this old woman, who everyone called
a witch because she knew herbs that could cure
or kill, and beg for a remedy to heal her son

of a sickness she had never seen before. 
The old woman peeled away the swaddling
cloths, wrapped around the child as if to staunch

a wound, went to the back of her hut, 
and pounded leaves into a poultice. 
“Rub this over his chest and he will get better.” 

“A man who is born for the cross can’t drown.” 
Mary nodded. She didn’t understand a word-- 
only what she needed to do to save her son’s life.

November 20, 2014

My Ideal Schedule - Miami Book Fair International 2014

SaturdayNovember 22

10:00 a.m.Room 8201Jen Karetnick on Brie Season, Chelsea Rathburn on A Raft of Grief: Poems, Danniel Schoonebeek on American Barricade and Elisa Albo on Each Day More
11:30 a.m.Room 8201The National Book Awards present the 2014 Winners and Finalists for Poetry including Fanny Howe, Claudia Rankine and Maureen N. McLane
12:00 p.m.AuditoriumMark Strand: A Poetry Reading and Tribute with Jorie Graham and Charles Wright
12:30 p.m.Room 8202Heather McPherson on Good Catch: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida's Waters; Jen Karetnick on Mango; and Mark DeNote on The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide
2:00 p.m.Chapman Conference CenterBlack Prophetic Fires: African American Leaders and Their Visionary Legacies

3:30 p.m.BattenThe Fire This Time: Miami Book Fair Honors James Baldwin
3:30 p.m.Room 8201A Poetry Reading: Carolyn Forché on Poetry of Witness, Bob Holman on Sing This One Back to Me and Stanley Plumly The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner with Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb
4:30 p.m.Room 8201A Poetry Reading: Kimiko Hahn on Brain Fever: Poems, Vijay Seshadri on 3 Sections: Poems, Peg Boyers on To Forget Venice, Carl Phillips on Silverchest: Poems and Denise Duhamel on Blowout

Sunday, November 23

11:00 a.m.Room 8525Future Tense: Independence, Diversity and the Future of Jamaican Publishing
12:00 p.m.Room 8503Rick Bragg on Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story
12:30 p.m.AuditoriumStuart Dybek on Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories, Russell Banks on A Permanent Member of the Family and Mary Gordon on The Liar's Wife: Four Novellas
1:00 p.m.Room 7106Mary Simses on The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, John Warley on A Southern Girl: A Novel, Anjanette Delgado on The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho and Sam Barry on Her Wild Oats by Kathi Kamen Goldmark
1:30 p.m.Room 8201A Poetry Reading: Mervyn Taylor on The Waving Gallery, Saeed Jones on Prelude to Bruise and Catherine Bowman on The Plath Cabinet
2:00 p.m.AuditoriumMarlon James on A Brief History of Seven Killings:
A Novel
, Francisco Goldman on The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle, and Nuruddin Farah on Hiding in Plain Sight: A Novel
2:00 p.m.Chapman Conference CenterTwo Lives: Charles M. Blow on Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoirand Richard Blanco on The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood

3:00 p.m.Room 1164Fairy Tales Told and Re-told: Russ Kick on The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature, Van Jensen on Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Complete Edition, Ted Naifeh on Princess Ugg and Heidi Schulz onHook's Revenge
3:00 p.m.Room 8201A Poetry Reading: Barbara Hamby on Street of Divine Love, Michael Hettich on Systems of Vanishing and Tony Hoagland on Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays
4:00 p.m.Room 8303Lauren Francis-Sharma on 'Til the Well Runs Dry, Elizabeth Nunez on Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir, Carole Boyce Davies on Caribbean Spaces: Escapes from Twilight Zones and Tiphanie Yanique on Land of Love and Drowning

Click here for the complete Fairgoer’s Guide:

November 17, 2014

Book Launch: Rastafari in the New Millennium

Rastafari in the New Millennium 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

6:00 p.m.
UC I-Lounge
University of Miami
1320 S Dixie Hwy, 
Coral Gables, FL 33124

November 16, 2014

CD Launch: Scream by Malachi Smith

Launch of SCREAM – a CD collection of powerful prophecy, exhortation and lamentation by Dub Poet,Malachi Smith.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

6:30 p.m.
JEPA’s Place,
7153 West Oakland Park Boulevard, 
Lauderhill, Florida 33313. 

October 22, 2014

Resisting Against the System: Kreyòl, Patwa & the Matrix of Maroonage

Professor Geoffrey Philp traces the origins of language suppression as a tool of colonial policy in the Caribbean and the various forms of resistance in the work of Haitian and Jamaican writers such as  Manno Charlemagne, Bob Marley, Louise Bennett, and Felix Morrisseau-Leroy.

Geoffrey Philp, author of the e-book, Bob Marley and Bradford’s iPod, has also written five collections of poetry, two children's e-books, and two short story collections. An award winning writer, Philp is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. He teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade college where he is chair of Developmental Education at the North Campus.

"Preserving Global Creole Cultures and Languages"

International Creole Month

Thursday, October 23, 2014.   
9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Room 3249.
North Campus Conference Center, 
Miami Dade College

Resisting Against The System

October 20, 2014

Book Review: A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

When New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani described A Brief History of Seven Killings as “epic in every sense of that word,” I thought my reaction would be similar to Dr. Johnson’s response to another epic, Paradise Lost: “None could have wished it a word longer.” Coming in at just under seven hundred pages with a cast of at least seventy-six named characters from the laconic Josey Wales to the inscrutable Nina Burgess, A Brief History of Seven Killings spans three decades of Jamaican history during the post-independence era.

While A Brief History of Seven Killings could be reduced to the chronicle of Rolling Stone journalist, Alex Pierce, who stumbles on to information about the assassination of Bob Marley, which puts his own life in danger, that would be only one of the plots. And such a reductionist view would be a grave injustice to this monumental work. For Marlon James is updating many of the questions raised in Jamaican classics such as Brother Man, an exploration of the influence of Rastafari; Voices Under the Window, which captured the race, class, and colour conflicts of Jamaican culture, and The Children of Sisyphus, a Dantesque vision of a Jamaican ghetto. 

James is also asking questions that affect the life of every Jamaican at home and abroad: Why was the CIA involved in the destabilization of the Jamaican government from 1972-79? Why did the peace movement fall apart? Why would anyone try to kill the famed prophet of reggae and Rastafari? Only a writer with the prodigious talent and assiduous attention to the craft of storytelling that Mr. James possesses could have attempted such an ambitious project and created this spellbinding narrative. As someone who lived through those turbulent times and who is knowledgeable about many of the facts, rumors, and half-truths about the attempted assassination, I was impressed not only by James’s approach, but also with his treatment of the events surrounding December 3, 1976.

Perhaps, the most intriguing aspect of this novel is the shift in perspectives. Just when I thought I knew a character such as Josey Wales, the brutal leader of the Storm posse, I found myself in the middle of a tender scene between him and his son: “I smile with the boy so that he don’t feel like I threatening him too much, but he is sixteen now, and I still remember sixteen, so I know the hunger growing in him. All this talking back is moving from a little cute to a little threat. Part of it sweet me, seeing this little shit puff him chest out.” Or another killer, Weeper, who reads books such as Bertrand Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy and will not hesitate to murder and maim, yet still finds time to enjoy moments with his lover: “He thinking I going to be the one to look away first, but I not going look away and I not going to even blink.”

A Brief History of Seven Killings, which was dubbed the “Great Jamaican Novel” by Fader, has rightly earned this title. For even after six hundred and eighty eight pages, I was still concerned about the fates of Alex Pierce and the enigmatic changeling, Nina Burgess. Or whatever she calls herself these days.

September 17, 2014

Talkin Dub - Michael ‘Mikey’ Smith 60th Birthday Tribute

Talkin Dub - Michael ‘Mikey’ Smith 60th Birthday Tribute

Crafted in protest, powered by revolution, infused with reggae and blessed by Rastafari - Michael ‘Mikey’ Smith 60th Birthday Tribute.  Poets & Passion - A Caribbean Literary Lime 9th Season opener in celebration of the man, the artist; the activist.  

A program of film, music and performance poetry with guest poets AJA, jaBEZ, Queen Majeeda and Ras Osagyefo.  Presented by the Caribbean Cultural Theatre in association with Nicholas Brooklyn, Inc. and Big Sister Entertainment as a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event.  

Nicholas Brooklyn, 
570 Fulton Street (corner Flatbush Avenue), Brooklyn, NY
Thursday, September 18, 2014.  7:00pm.

Caribbean Cultural Theatre: 718.783.8345 
Nicholas Brooklyn: 718.858.4400

September 16, 2014

"Cry to Me": Fatherhood and Domestic Violence

The prevalence of violence, especially domestic violence with Caribbean families, has been one of the themes in my two short story collections, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien and Who's Your Daddy? 

In the short story, "Cry to Me," from Who's Your Daddy, which I've republished as an eBook, I've combined domestic violence with fatherhood in the story of David Hamilton, a respected professor, whose life is disrupted when his daughter becomes a victim of domestic violence.

I think "Cry to Me" is a precursor to a darker story that I am currently working on in which fatherhood turns ugly. Stay tuned.

WomanSpeak, A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Vol.7,

WomanSpeak, A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Vol.7, 2014, edited by Lynn Sweeting, brings together 30 contemporary women writers and painters of the Caribbean in a new collection especially themed, “Voices of Dissent: Writing and Art to Transform the Culture.”  Includes works by Opal Palmer Adisa, Lelawattee Manoo Rahming, Vahni Capildeo, Althea Romeo-Mark, Marion Bethel, Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, Sonia Farmer, Angelique V. Nixon and more.

September 15, 2014


For the past year and a half, I've been working on a collection of poems, LETTER FROM MARCUS GARVEY. Some of the poems have been published in Small Axe and  Susumba. Today, I received some great news from Connotations, which not only published poems #9, #18, and #35, but also an interview about the poems, Garvey's life, and my writing process.

Give thanks to Julie Brooks Barbour, who conducted the interview, and Kaite Hillenbrand, Poetry Editor of Connotations.

Here's the link:

Sasenarine Persaud @ Edinburgh International Book Festival

Sasenarine Persaud recently returned from a successful eight (8) event reading tour of the UK, focused in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Sasenarine’s trip, funded mainly by the British Council, coincided with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. As part of the Games, a poet from each Commonwealth country read and recorded a poem on the BBC’s (British Broadcasting Corporation) Poetry Postcard Program. Sasenarine’s poem, ‘Georgetown’ (from his soon to be released book, Love in a Time of Technology) is available here: 

The poem was printed on postcards and distributed throughout the Commonwealth Games. Sasenarine opened his tour with a reading and discussion on poetry and poetics, culture, homelands and exiles at the BBC in Glasgow in front a live audience.

This was followed by an interview and a reading at the Empire Café in Glasgow with an audience of over 200, and with the Scottish Minister of External Affairs and International Development introducing the evening. The Empire Café was formed to look at Scottish involvement with the slave trade and its association with the plantation system in the West Indies. The Empire Café commissioned Sasenarine to write a poem (‘Campbellville’) which was published by the Café in an anthology, and which led to the Café extending an invitation to visit Scotland.

Two (2) readings at the Saltire Society (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), in the historic courtyard building where Robert Louis Stevenson’s narrator of Treasure Island told the story of his iconic novel,followed.

Sasenarine rounded off his trip with three (3) readings at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF). He had the distinction of opening the 2014 edition of the EIBF on August 9, with a solo reading to a packed tent at a reading called “10 at 10”. Later in the day he read with three (3) other poets in an event billed as “Voices of the Caribbean Diaspora,” which occurred in the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre and which was introduced by Jackie Kay. His final appearance at the EIBF was at an event titled, ”Jura Unbound”, an evening of poetry, music and reflections, the evening before his departure.



September 5, 2014

On my bookshelf: Pepperpot

Peepal Tree Press

Pepperpot is the inaugural publication of Peekash Press, a joint imprint of 
Caribbean literature by Akashic Books (Brooklyn) and Peepal Tree Press (Leeds, UK). In collaboration with the Commonwealth Writers, the British Council, the Kingston Book Festival, and CaribLit, Akashic and Peepal Tree -- already recognized as publishers of high-quality Caribbean literature -- further their commitment to writers from the region with this exciting new imprint. Pepperpot gathers the very best Caribbean entries to the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, including a mix of established and up-and-coming writers from islands throughout the Caribbean.

Featuring short fiction by: 

Sharon Millar (Trinidad & Tobago)
Dwight Thompson (Jamaica)
Kevin Baldeosingh, (Trinidad & Tobago) 
Ivory Kelly (Belize)
Barbara Jenkins (Trinidad & Tobago) 
Sharon Leach (Jamaica)
Joanne C. Hillhouse (Antigua & Barbuda)
Ezekel Alan (Jamaica)
Heather Barker (Barbados)
Janice Lynn Mather (Bahamas) 
Kimmisha Thomas (Jamaica) 
Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad & Tobago)
Garfield Ellis (Jamaica)


August 17, 2014

Marcus Garvey: What Does it Mean to be a Man?

marcus garvey

Today marks the 127th birthday of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the first National Hero of Jamaica, and one of my spiritual ancestors.

Marcus Garvey through his life and work helped me to understand a question that has haunted me and many other Africans at home and abroad: What does it mean to be a man?

After travelling through the Americas and into the center of colonial power in the West Indies, Garvey realized that Africans at home and abroad in order to survive the brutalities of slavery had been reduced to a childish state in which they had relinquished personal and collective power. Cowed into submission, Africans at home and abroad lived in fear of outside forces over which they had no control, and even after gaining “freedom,” their existence was based on the level of servility to their former masters.

As Garvey saw it, Africans at home and abroad could either live in a reactionary state in which they only responded to crises (and once the crisis was over resume a passive, dormant existence) or take control of their lives by assuming personal and collective responsibility.

“A race without authority and power, is a race without respect,” said Garvey, and to remedy the situation, he created the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Men and nations assume responsibility for their lives. Personal and collective responsibility guided Garvey’s philosophy of manhood and nationhood, which were organized around these principles:

Redemption of Africans at home and abroad



Garvey set a challenge before Africans at home and abroad when he wrote in the Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey: "The greatest weapon used against the Negro is disorganization.”

In the midst of Ferguson and other daily insults to Africans at home and abroad, either we can continue living in a childish, reactionary state where we do not assume responsibility for our lives or we can organize and plan accordingly.

The choice, as it was then and now, is ours.


The Coalition for the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey is petitioning President Barack Obama to exonerate Marcus Garvey:

Thank you for your support.

August 12, 2014

Poetry Fundraiser: Franklyn March

A night of poetry, good food and raffle prizes to raise funds for Franklyn March, a sickle cell patient in Jamaica who desperately needs a hip replacement surgery.

Saturday,August 16, 2014
6:00 to 9:00 p.m

Florida international University, 
Biscayne Bay Campus, 
Wolfe University Center 
Room 155, 
3000 NE 151st Street, 
North Miami, Florida

If you cannot attend, please consider a donation to the gofundme campaign:

One Heart.

August 8, 2014

Accepting Submissions: sx salon: a small axe literary platform

sx salon: a small axe literary platform

sx salon: a small axe literary platform invites submissions for Fall 2014 and Winter 2015. sx salon, launched in 2010 as part of the Small Axe Project, is an electronic publication dedicated to literary discussions, interviews with Caribbean literary figures, reviews of new publications (creative and scholarly) related to the Caribbean, and short fiction and poetry by emerging and established Caribbean writers. sx salon also houses the Small Axe Literary Competition, launched in 2009. Visit to view past issues.

sx salon publishes a new issue every three months and invites submissions of the following:

Literary Discussions that engage issues relevant to Caribbean literary studies: 2,500 words. Anticipated discussions for Summer and Fall include “Chinese Caribbean Literature” and “Dub Poetry.”

Book Reviews of recent (published no more than two years preceding the date of submission) creative literary works by Caribbean authors or scholarly works related to Caribbean literary studies: 1,200 words. Please contact to query available books.

Interviews with Caribbean literary figures: 2,500 words

Poetry and Short Fiction that engage regional and diasporic Caribbean themes and concerns: up to 2 poems or fiction of up to 4,000 words

Please visit for more detailed guidelines for submissions.

All inquiries and submissions should be sent electronically to the following addresses:

Literary discussions, book reviews, interviews: Kelly Baker Josephs 

Short fiction and poetry: Andrea Shaw

"A Prayer for my Children": Jamaican Poetry, Part Two

Give thanks to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for including "A Prayer for my Children" in the second part of their review of a hundred years of Jamaican poetry: Jamaican Poetry Part Two. 

The programme (notice the proper way to spell the word) also includes:

"The Ark by "Scratch" by Ishion Hutchinson

"Piece in Parts (Fi Tosh R.I.P.)" by A-dZiko Simba

"Where We . . " by Makesha Evans

"Roads (Remembering Aimé Césaire)" by Velma Pollard

"Jamaica Language" by Louise Bennett

'Dis Poem' by Mutabaruka

You can listen to the poems here:

Part One

"A Midnight Woman to the Bobby" by Claude McKay

"Cameo" by Una Marson 

"Landscape Painter, Jamaica" by Vivian Virtue 

"Negro Aroused" by George Campbell 

"Dutty Tough" by Louise Bennett 

"Shelling Gungo Peas" by Gloria Escoffery 

"Letter to My Father from London" by James Berry 

"History and Away" by Andrew Salkey 

"Sometimes in the Middle of the Story" by Edward Baugh 

"Valley Prince"  by Mervyn Morris 

"Uncle Time" by Dennis Scott 

"Brief Lives" by Olive Senior 

"Last Lines" by Pam Mordecai 

"Mrs" by Lillian Allen

"I No Longer Read Poetry" by Heather Royes 

"Riddim An' Hardtime' by Lillian Allen 

August 7, 2014

Rootz Extravaganza: Sunday, August 17, 2014

Educational psychologist and Garvey scholar Dr. Umar Johnson will be the guest speaker at this year’s Rootz Extravaganza on Sunday, August 17, 2014, at the Lauderdale Lakes Educational & Cultural Center, 3580 W. Oakland Park Boulevard. The event is scheduled from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm and will commemorate the 127th anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s birth as well as the 100th anniversary of the UNIA-ACL.

Dr. Umar Johnson

4.00 pm to 7.00 pm
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Lauderdale Lakes Educational & Cultural Center
3580 W. Oakland Park Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale

August 6, 2014

Marcus and the Amazons: A Suspenseful Page-turner

Marcus and the Amazons

From The Caribbean Writer (Volume 27):
Philp's Marcus and the Amazons is a suspenseful and spellbinding bildungsroman page-turner that holds all who would lead, all who would teach, accountable to educate at the highest level of scholarship towards the advancement of peoples and nations. Above all, his message to rise to the higher self, begs to be considered as integral to curricula development for “kids from 1 to 92.”

Andrene Bonner 

Mount Vernon, New York 

Read the full review in The Caribbean Writer (Volume 27):

August 5, 2014

Poetry Slam: “Understanding the World around You: The Environment and Climate Change”

The U.S. Embassy (Kingston, Jamaica) is hosting its first competitive youth poetry slam, “Understanding the World around You: The Environment and Climate Change” on August 12, 2014 from 10am-12pm. 

Winners of the “Best Performance” and “Best Written Piece” will receive iPads and tablets! If you are interested in competing send an original poem about the environment or climate change to by Aug. 8th. Must be ages 10-19 to enter.

Everyone is welcome to come and watch as members of the audience! There will be an open mic intermission for anyone who wants to perform a poem outside the competition. To attend one must also RSVP at the email address above or call 702-6172.

For more information about rules and regulations visit or call 702-6172/6229

On my bookshelf: Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture

Louise Bennett Coverley, ‘Miss Lou’, has for decades represented the ‘face’ of Jamaican culture, the essence of what it is to be Jamaican. As a poet, performer, storyteller, singer, actress, writer, broadcaster, folklore scholar and children’s television show host, she won hearts and souls for Jamaica with her humorous yet compelling performances worldwide.

It is Miss Lou, more than any other figure in Jamaica’s history, who showed that the language spoken by most Jamaicans – patois or Jamaican Creole – is worthy of respect.

In Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture, Mervyn Morris traces the life of this legendary Jamaican from early beginnings through to her local and international eminence, and discusses aspects of her work.

A listing of recommended books and recordings is an added feature of this worthy biography of Miss Lou.

Mervyn Morris is Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing and West Indian Literature at the University of the West Indies, Mona. He is the author of ‘Is English We Speaking’ and other essays (1999), Making West Indian Literature (2005) and six books of poetry, including I been there, sort of (2006).

Ian Randle Publishers:

July 29, 2014

Marcus Garvey Centennial Exhibit Scheduled For African-American Research Library

                                                                                                        Marcus Garvey’s UNIA-ACL: The Centennial Exhibit, a month-long, mixed-media exhibition, will be on view to the public during August 2014 in the gallery of the African American Research Library & Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale. The Centennial Exhibit is scheduled to run from Friday, August 1, 2014, through to Friday, August 29,2014, and will focus on the life, times and modern day legacy of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA-ACL.

The unique exhibition is being mounted by the Rootz Foundation Inc. in association with the Broward County Library and Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s international organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association & African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). The Centennial Exhibit will be open to the public during normal library hours.

Dr. Julius Garvey M.D., son of Marcus Garvey, will be the special guest of honor for the Centennial Exhibit’s opening reception, which takes place from 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm on Friday, August 1, 2014 at the Research Library & Cultural Center located at 2650 NW 6th Street in Fort Lauderdale.

Broward County District 9 Commissioner Dale Holness is scheduled to read a proclamation by the Board of County Commissioners of Broward County declaring August 2014 as “The Right Excellent Marcus Garvey Jr. Appreciation Month” in Broward County, Florida. The proclamation is signed by Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief.

The Centennial Exhibit consists of a large collection of public and private Garvey family photographs; vintage photographs of the UNIA membership on the march and attending organization events; posters and handbills promoting the 1920s Black Star Line shipping endeavor; a variety of press clippings, books and magazines related to the Garvey movement; inspiring quotes by Garvey himself and insightful quotes about Garvey by other famous notables; historical data and timelines; plus looped audio-visual displays.

The informative special exhibit is geared specifically for students and others who are interested in learning more about the life and achievements of the Jamaican and Pan-American hero, the global impact of his organization, and about ongoing efforts by many different organizations and individuals to continue his legacy. One of the most unique aspects of this exhibition is the photographic and other materials detailing the existence of the UNIA-ACL today in 21st century America and showcasing the organization’s present day membership and its current activities internationally.

The opening reception will mark both Emancipation Day 2014 - a day of special significance for many Caribbean and African countries - as well as the start of this year’s extended Marcus Garvey Rootz Extravaganza. The Rootz Extravaganza is staged annually by the Rootz Foundation Inc. to observe and celebrate the birth of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaica-born Pan-African patriarch and hero.

Educational psychologist and Garvey scholar, Dr. Umar Johnson will be the guest speaker at this year’s Rootz Extravaganza on Sunday, August 17 at the Lauderdale Lakes Educational & Cultural Center at 3580 W. Oakland Park Boulevard. The event is scheduled from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm and will commemorate the 127th anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s birth as well as the 100th anniversary of the UNIA-ACL.

Marcus Garvey and Amy Ashwood Garvey established the UNIA-ACL in Kingston, Jamaica in July 1914. After Garvey relocated the organization’s headquarters to Harlem, New York in 1917, the UNIA-ACL became the largest organization of Black people in the world. At its height, with UNIA branches proliferating throughout the Caribbean, North, South and Central America, and Africa, membership in the organization soared to over 6-million people.

Dr. Julius Garvey M.D.

Friday, August 1, 2014 
4:00--6:00 p.m.
Research Library & Cultural Center

2650 NW 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale.

For more information call Rootz Foundation at 754-264-2205.

July 28, 2014

The Path to Akan: An Interview with Barrington M. Salmon (Nana Yao Ansa Dankwaa)

Tell me about your religious history.
Mine has been an interesting journey. I was born and raised a Catholic, did all the stuff associated with that: church every Sunday, first communion, confession, confirmation etc, etc. I attended and graduated from Catholic elementary and primary schools in London and Kingston. I think the thing that first made me begin to question was what I experienced while at St. Francis de Sales Elementary School in North London.  My siblings and I were only a handful of blacks at the school and we got little to no protection from the nuns, priests and teachers at the school against the very blatant acts of racism we experienced there. We were called monkeys, gollywogs--people asked to see our tails and stuff like that.

Then, at St. Richard’s Primary in Kingston, the nuns, almost all who were light-skinned were so classist and immersed into colorism that they routinely granted all types of favors to the light-skinned children, but also to those who parents were wealthy and donated liberally to the church. While serving as an altar boy, I saw a lot of the rituals up close.

I think the last thing that shook my faith was going to church every Sunday at Our Lady of the Angels and seeing one woman in particular, who had like eight to 10 children, all stair step – a year or two apart –she was not wealthy. She had that many children, I thought, because the Church prohibited contraception. It just made no sense to me for anyone to have that many children and the church didn’t really extend its hand to help.

I also thought the church’s stand on sex, intimacy and marriage was quaint. So from the time I was 15 or so, I went on a journey, making stops at churches, synagogues, mosques, revival tents, converted halls, anywhere I could search for a connection: Seventh Day, Jehovah’s Witness, Methodist, Episcopal, Pocomania, Rastafari, and Mormons. I talked to everybody, all the time, in search of that je ne sais quoi.

I “gave” my life to Christ several times, including when the Billy Graham Crusade came to Jamaica. But that lasted a hot minute or only as long as a pretty woman walked by. And after brief moments of euphoria, I still felt a void that nothing filled. 

As a teenager, I rebelled against the idea of a white Jesus and a white God, and I resolved to find a spiritual path that embraced my Africanity and my humanity as a black man. I was drawn to Rastafari as a teenager, started loxing my hair, but my mother put a stop to that. But I have always carried Rasta tenets and beliefs while on this amazing spiritual path.

In 1996, my marriage was in trouble and a friend suggested that we go to a marriage counselor, who happened to be an Akan priest and Reiki master. My ex and I started counseling and at some point I was invited to attend an Akom, a worship service. I liked what I saw, began to feel very comfortable and never left.

In subsequent research, I discovered that my maternal grandmother was a Maroon who traced her ancestry to Ghana. So it was like my journey dovetailed culturally, genealogically and spiritually. 

I began as a general member, trained and served as an Okyeame, a linguist and interpreter for my spiritual godmother who was also a Queen Mother. At some point, during a reading, I was told that I needed to go into priest training. I resisted for several years because I had never thought of myself as possessing anything remotely priestly, but in conversations and readings, I learned of the many reasons people were drawn to the priesthood: to save their lives, heal, help their family, serve the community spiritually and so on.

What sparked your desire for change? 

My life was going along in what I called “splendid chaos.” It was unraveling personally and professionally. I enjoyed some aspects of my life, but sought to find spiritual peace. I was dissatisfied with a consumer- and celebrity-driven society. I have never bought into the materialism that is consuming this country and I always thought there should be more. I wanted more, wished to have a closer relationship with the Creator and I looked high and low, had conversations with friends and strangers, ministers and laypeople trying to understand more. The questions always lingered: Who am I? Why am I here? How can I make a difference? Luckily, the Creator guided my footsteps and led me in the right direction.

I was ordained into the priesthood in 2006 which actually marked the end of the beginning. I went on hiatus and on March 20, 2014, I traveled to Ghana to finish the second and most crucial part of my training. I had a teacher, plus my spiritual godparents, who have taught me, instructed and guided me. He was open, answered every question and showed me how to be the type of priest I’ve wanted to be. My teachers say that in order to lead you have to serve and I am ready to serve.

What is the name of your spiritual path? 

I am Akan. It is an ancient religion that predates Christianity by more than a thousand years or more, I'm told. It is practiced in Ghana, Benin, the Ivory Coast, Congo and other parts of Central and West Africa. We believe that there is one God and a multitude of Angels who are manifestations of the Creator. 

We believe that everyone who comes to earth makes a pact with the Creator (Nyame, Almighty God) to fulfill his/her spiritual destiny while we're here. It doesn't have to be as a priest, but we are called upon to help our families, improve the community, be of service to those around us, and make positive contributions to our growth and development spiritually, economically and in other ways.

We believe in God, acknowledge Jesus and other prophets and respect all spiritual paths. We don't proselytize or force anyone to convert because we feel that if a person is led to what we believe, God, the Angels and our Ancestors will show them the way. 

Our Ancestors are very important to us and we believe that they play an active role in our lives and in guiding us and helping us navigate this world. We honor and venerate them, but do not worship them. They are a part of our foundation and their sacrifices have helped us as we move forward. As ones who have been here, and lived their lives, they can help us avoid the pitfalls and problems they encountered. They are also the custodians of the culture and traditions and the keepers of order in our lives.

How does Akan differ from Christianity?

In Christianity, Jesus is the Son of God and the belief is that Christians can only go to Heaven through Jesus. There are varying views from others who share my beliefs, but I see Jesus as a prophet.

Christians believe in heaven and hell. We believe that honorable people who have contributed to the community and live good lives go to Heaven (Asamando). Catholics have saints which enslaved Africans correlated with their deities (angels). 

Christians believe in conversion. We do not.

Akan Priests are the vessels and instruments of the Spirit and we are trained to possess and hold the Spirit, use that power to heal, divine and help those in need. 

Akan is African-based, Christianity mostly Eurocentric.

How has your worldview changed?

I think I’m more optimistic, desirous of peace and amiable relations with friend and foe. I am fully aware that there is a Higher Power and that we are not in control the way we’d like to think. I continue to work to be honorable, decent, a good father, companion and friend. I’m looking forward to what life has in store for me going forward.

I am more convinced that religion and spirituality as practice is more of a detriment and divider than a unifier which makes me sad. But spirituality, in my mind, has the seeds for our renewal and resurrection as human beings.  

About Barrington M. Salmon.

Barrington M. Salmon ( is a British-born Jamaican journalist who has been writing for more than 20 years. He recently completed a master’s degree in Creative Writing and New Media from Demontfort University. Barrington is a traditional African priest in the Akan Akom tradition and has lived, worked, and studied in Washington DC, United States; Miami and Tallahassee, FL; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Leicester, United Kingdom.