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: